Lifting As I Climb

Servant's Heart Ministries

Submitted Wednesday, December 23, 2009


 An assembly is organized and David gathers together all the leaders of Israel, as well as the priests and Levites. 1Chron.23:1-2 expound: The Levites thirty years old or more were counted, and the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand. The purpose of the convocation was to organize the government so that there would be a smooth transition between administrations_the incumbent and Solomon's. Realizing that he was full of years and that the heir to the throne was inexperienced, the king wisely organized the leadership so that they would support Solomon. If you desire, you can read further in  1Chron.23:7-11 to determine those belonging to the Gershonites; the Kohathites and the Merarites. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, December 24, 2009

 

David bows out graciously, but not before delivering a blue-print farewell address. In  1Chron.28:1 it says that David summoned all the officials of Israel. He made his son Solomon king over Israel. Then, in Chapter 28:2-8 we are told that King David rose to his feet and said: "Listen to me, my brothers and my  people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, 'You are not to build a house for my name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.' "Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as a leader, and from the house of Judah he chose my family, and from my fathers's sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. Of all my sons_and the Lord has given me many_he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me: 'Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.' "So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and  pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever. The address continues in 1Chron28:9,10: "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sancturary. Be strong and do the work." Lord, let he who has an ear listen. It is noteworthy to know that from this line a sprout of Jesse was born in the form of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. David continues to advise Solomon in verses nine and ten and in the eleventh through the nineteenth he gives his son the plans for the the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storehouses, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. And he gave him the required materials. He asked for contribution from the assembly and they gave willingly as is stated in 1Chron. 29:6-9. We revisit the big O word. Offerings. The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and whole-heartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly. Father, help my friends to know that they, too, must give. Of their resources. And of their time. Helping others is the best way to help yourself. 1Chron.29:10-20 relate the emotions of King David regarding the generosity of the  people: "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope..." Today's affirmation: I must not always concern myself with myself. I must remember that I am only a grain of sand on the shores of life. I will share my income. I will step out on faith. It is not all about me. If I have very little, I will share that which has been given me. I also have my mind and body to be given in an effort to assist others, especially those of like mind and circumstances. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted December 25, 2009

 

It is not heresy. Material presented on this site are given in chronological order. It is simply for the sake of historical occurance. In other words, if you graduated from high school in one year and the event is revealed another year, it is not presented as it happened. It is easier to understand when facts are presented within the context of their historical happenings. Concomitantly, the book of Psalms is a compilation of many songs/prayers written by David, as well as others. For example the sons of Korah, referenced earlier, wrote some of them. Since there are a collection of 150 of these psalms, it is best understood when they are presented topically as well as thematically. The topical arrangement resulted from the efforts of the editor of THE DAILY BIBLE PUBLISHED BY GUIDEPOSTS, WITH COMMENTARY BY F. LAGARD SMITH. The application of the psalms to those with depression are my own. First to be considered are PSALMS OF THE TROUBLED SOUL. Some of you may be cognizant that a few psalms from the collection have previously been presented. Beginning with Psa. 5, the theme evolves around the lies of enemies. God is able to defend us from lies spoken against us. Lord, many of my friends have been victims of sheer lies that have been told or implied against them. Some find it difficult to "shake" them off and go on with their lives. A half-truth is still a lie, Lord. Jehovah, many of these same friends have told lies. Silence, it is said, means consent. In Psa. 5 David prays for protection of the righteous. Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. It continues: You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors. Heavenly Father, there are those who establish themselves above my friends. They are arrogant. They are self-righteous. But you exalt the humble, Lord. You have demonstrated this many times. The next psalm finds David in trouble. God is able to rescue him. He laments: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long? Lord, these psalms are so soothing to the souls of my troubled friends. They need very little commentary. Because of their length, you may read them in their entirety at your convenience. In Psa. 7 David makes a request for justice against those who make slanderous comments. God is the perfect judge and will punish those who persecute the innocent. In it the Psalmist says: Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. This can be helpful to my battered friends who are victims of domestic abuse. The final presentations for today are Psa. 10 and ll. In the former, David wonders why the Lord seems to stand far from him. He writes: Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. In Psa. 11 David takes reguge in the Lord. In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: "Flee like a bird to your mountain..." Because of the very nature of the psalms, as well as their blatant messages of hope, the affirmations will not be given. Sporadic commentary will suffice. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends. Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, December 26, 2009

 

Let me share with you my story. Once I sat at my desk and began to journal. I wrote for hours. I berated myself up and down. I wrote about every aspect of my life. It wasn't a pretty picture. But, I continued to write  until I had released the negative energy. I read what I had written. Then, I destroyed it. It was finished. Analogous to what happened to Christ on the cross. I felt so much better. I never forgot the process, but abandoned the  pain. This is what I think David is doing with his psalms. Continuing with Psa. 13 we find the theme to be: prayer for salvation from enemies. How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? In keep ing with my intention for this section of the bible, I will limit my commentary. Sometimes, however, it is needed. Lord, my friends must be aware that the enemy is not always of an extraneous source. Sometimes they are the enemy. My friends inflict harm upon themselves through negative thinking. I did. And I continue to battle the demon. Prayer for rescue from enemies is the theme of Psa. 17. Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer__ it does not rise from deceitful lips. May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. It continues:  I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from your foes. Rise up, O lord, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword, O Lord, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. The next psalm of David is familiar to  believers. And is memorized by most. Repeat it slowly and inhale every word: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want, He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The New International Version is used here and may vary slightly from your bible of choice. Psa. 26 is a prayer for redemption of the righteous. David writes: Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering, Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth. Father, as is recorded in your Holy Word, David did not always walk blamelessly before you. Neither have my friends. Nor I. But, you were there for David. You are here for my friends and you were with me. Finally, Psa. 31 is a supplication for relief from pursuers and slanderers. It is a psalm of David. In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me,  come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. It continues: I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anquish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, and my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my afflication and my bones grow weak. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Sunday, December 27, 2009

 

A range of emotions. This was the motivation behind the psalms written by David. He expressed himself through his songs in the same way as I am through this website. Some of his psalms were introduced earlier when he felt and experienced them. His life was like a pendulum, swinging from lows to highs. David endured it all. And that is what my friends feel, Lord. Many of them have been diagnosed with manic depression which is characterized by emotional extremes. At one point they are ecstatically happy and then later they are "down in the dumps." Continuing with the topic, "Psalms of the Troubled Soul," we find the theme of Psa. 35 to be prayers for vindication in the eyes of enemies who gloat. Father, there are many in the lives of my friends who have malice in their hearts, and are actually happy over their circumstances. This psalm is of David. Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. In another stanza it says: ...may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away; may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, may ruin overtake them by surprise... In the fourth stanza we touch upon the theme: Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye. Stanza five ends by saying, Do not let them think, "Aha, just what we wanted!" or say, "We have swallowed him up." In Psa. 41 we find a prayer for the weak and those who suffer betrayal by friends. This, too, is a psalm of David. Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The third stanza relates: Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 43 is a prayer for insight in the face of opposition. Let us examine the second stanza: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. Refuge and strength in the God who rules over nations is the main idea of Psa. 46. In the first stanza it explains: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. The third stanza says, The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. The last, Psa. 55 is a prayer over the anguish of having disloyal companions. It is of David. Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. A line from the second stanza says ..."Oh, that I had wings of a dove! I would flee far away and stay in the desert..." Finally, stanza four laments, If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. And the last stanza admonishes: Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, December 28, 2009

 

"But some of the psalms don't make sense to me," you may say. Perhaps to many. But to those who have studied the Word and the events leading up to them, they should be able to perceive their meanings. There may have been times when David was hiding from Saul, for example. Of course, these psalms will be different from those expressed after his adulterous affair. So, there you have it. It all depends upon the circumstances under which they were written. Wouldn't that be true of you? Simultaneously, you may be able to breathe life into a stanza according to your experiences that were not intended when composed by David. It all depends upon life events. Psa. 61 is a prayer for God's defense and shelter. It is of David. Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. The subsequent psalm of David, Psa. 62 has as its theme the fact that God is our only strength, whose love excels all others. In the first stanza: My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. And in the final two verses of the next stanza: With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. The last verses of the third stanza reveal: Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. In the final stanza: One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard; that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. In Psalm 64 there is a plea against conspirators who scheme evil deeds. It is a psalm of David. In the second stanza: They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows, They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear. And in the finality of stanza five: Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him! The last to be considered, Psalm 69 is a prayer for end of scorn. This, too, is of David. Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal. In the second stanza: For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, and alien to my own mother's sons; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn; when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards. Stanza three continues: But I pray to you, O Lord in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Tuesday, December 29, 2009

 

Are there any prophesies of the coming of the Messiah in the writings of the Psalms? That is a question I asked myself. And, I am sure some of you are wondering the same thing. Let us take a hiatus and address that query before proceeding with more songs of David and others. In this way, you may want to look for them as we progress through the Psalms, which is not considered a book. From HALLEY'S BIBLE HANDBOOK WRITTEN  BY HENRY H. HALLEY AND PUBLISHED BY ZONDERVAN, we find statments in the Psalms that in the New Testament are explicitly said to refer to Christ: "You are my Son; today I have become your Father" (Psa.2:7;Acts 13:33); "You put everything under his feet" (Psa. 8:6; Hebrews 2:6-10); "Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay"(Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:27) "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psa.22:1;Matthew 27:46);"He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him:(Psa.22:8; Matthew 27:43);"They have pierced my hands and my feet" (Psa. 22:16; John 20:25); "They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing" (Psa.22:18;John 19:24); "Here I am, I have come...to do your will, O my God (Psa40:7-8; Hebrews 10:7) "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread,has lifted up his heel against me: (Psa. 41:9; John 13:18; "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever" (Psa. 45:6; Hebrews 1:8);  "Zeal for your house consumes me" (Psa. 69:9; John 2:17) "They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst" (Psa:69:21 Matthew 27:34.48) "May another take his place of leadership" (Psa. 109:8; Acts 1:20); "The Lord says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet'" (Psa. 110:1; Matthew 22:44; "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind. 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek'" (Psa. 110:4; Hebrews 7:17); "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone" (Psa. 118:22; Matthew 21:42) and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Psa. 118:26; matthew 21.) See further under 2 Samuel 7 and Matthew 3:22. Lord, let those who are non-believers understand that the birth of Jesus was not just a "New Testament Thing" but that it is announced throughout the Old Testament. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, December 30, 2009

 

Before we shift gears and return to the Psalms, I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Elder Chuck of my church for suggesting the use of HALLEY'S BIBLE HANDBOOK. I mentioned it in the previous submission. It was the source used to provide the prophetic verses in the book of Psalms that are referenced in the Greek Scriptures. Psa. 70 targets the urgency of the need for God's deliverance as its theme. The second stanza states: Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay. Father, you are the provider for my friends. But, many of them have few material concerns. Yet, they are poor and needy emotionally. A prayer for God's  presence even in old age expresses the main idea of Psa. 71. Lord, depression is rampant among the elderly. It is not a young person's illness. The elderly find themselves victims of fraud perpetrated against them; many survive their mates and even children, as well as friends. Lord, deliver them from their pain. The first stanza says: In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. And excerpts from the second stanza express: For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.  The first few verses of stanza three says, Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.  In stanza four we find a positive message: But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. And, finally in the next stanza: Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things. Who, O God, is like you? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. These words have personal meaning for me. I have seen many troubles and they have been bitter. I have been ridiculed because of my illness, but God has delivered me and is comforting me once again. In Psa. 77 Asaph writes about the comfort of knowing God's record of deliverance. I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. In the second stanza these words are found: I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired. And in stanza four: Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs among the peoples.  Psa. 83 is a prayer for punishment of oppressing nations. I invite you to read it for yourselves. In Ps. 86 David prays for mercy in face of enemies. In the first stanza: Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. In the second stanza the following was written: You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, December 31, 2009

 

I recently received an e-mail message from a friend. Not one of those cute power point shows, but a simple essay. It was straightforward. It talked about regret. And how most people reflect upon their lives with such thoughts. But, the theme of the electronic note was that we were in a different state of mind "back then." We did the best we could under the circumstances and we learned from the experiences. And, we should move on. There is wisdom in that central meaning. But, the bible isn't written in that manner. God wanted the Israelites to remember what He had done for them as well as what they had done to him. He didn't want them to forget. And, that, too, has its merits. The past, I have always said, is good for nothing but feeling appreciative. But, if you fail to remember it, you are doomed to repeat it. I am not sure of the source of that bit of wisdom. In the first psalm of today's submission, Psa. 88, we embark upon what many would care not to consider. It is a psalm of the Sons of Korah and it is about the fear of one who is dying and wonders if God hears him. Take heart as the subsequent psalm gives a positive response to that query. Lord, there are those who are terminally ill. Some have the added burden of wondering about their spirituality. Some are non-believers and will accept their fate. But, even they, in the face of such circumstances, will ponder the future in the spiritual realm. The psalm says: O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. In the second stanza it continues: For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. Verse five says: But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? A more uplifting subject is embraced in Psa. 91_the personal protection of one who trusts in God. He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Below a picture of Christ in my bedroom I have the following verses written from this psalm: In the third stanza it says, If you make the Most High your dwelling_even the Lord, who is my refuge_then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Psalm 95 is about the God of creation as a personal Shepherd. In the first stanza: Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. The third stanza extols: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Psa. 108, of David, is a prayer for victory over enemies. In the first stanza it says, My heart is steadfast, O God..And in the second stanza we find these words: Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. The next song of David baffles me, but made perfect sense to David, who often had to flee from his enemies who sought to kill him. Though your circumstances may not be as dire, it is recommended that you read the entire psalm, breathing your personal experiences into David's song. Lord, let those who are hurting find comfort in the songs of David and his associates. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, January 1, 2010

 

"It is what it is," so says my son-in-law, Omar. Whenever he is troubled he always utters that phrase. And there is so much wisdom in it. Why analyze things? They are what they are. And for whatever reason. Now, I am not saying analysis is not good for the soul, especially when directed by a qualified mental health professional. However, you can over do it. Sometimes we have to accept things and go on. Ours is not always to wonder why. Yet, self analysis has its place. As we terminate this section of the psalms, we are preparing to approach a different subject matter. However, the current consideration, PRAYERS FOR THE TROUBLED SOUL doesn't end with my friends. Their troubles, like a beat, go on. The first psalm to be considered in this finality is Psa. 120: a prayer for deliverance from lying Gentiles who press war. WOW! I know that blew some of my non-believers out of the water. And it is not the result of my editorializing. It is the caption selected by the editor of the bible I chose to use, THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER (NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION). One should view this through the eyes of the times it which it was penned. Keep it in perspective. The first stanza says, I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. The next psalm, Psa. 121 focuses on the Lord watching over his people. The first stanza, a very familiar one, says, I lift up my eyes to the hills_where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the Maker of heaven and earth. The last stanza: The Lord will keep you from all harm_he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going  both now and forevermore. The theme of Psa. 140 reveals itself to be prayer for protection from violent persons. It is a psalm of David. The first stanza says, Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent's; the poison of vipers is on their lips. The last two verses of stanza three: Let slanderers not be established in the land; may disaster hunt down men of violence. And the last stanza: I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. Surely the righteous will praise your name and the upright will live before you. And we close out this section with Psa. 143 which targets prayer for preservation of life and protection against trouble. Also a psalm of David. The initial stanza states, O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. And in the third stanza: I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. The fourth stanza exclaims: Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me  from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in  you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. And  the final consideration is Psa. 144, prayer for God's power. Read it for yourself. It is of David. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, January 2, 2010

 

Righteous. Yes. Self-righteous. No. Whenever I teeter totter on the line between the two, I try to reflect upon conjunctions and adverbs, two of the parts of speech I taught as a former instructor of English. How so? Well, when I draw a conclusion about someone, I always add the conjuctions "and," "but," or "because." Or I will use an adverbial phrase such as "perhaps" or "maybe." I will ruminate in this fashion: Subject A may have done action Y because....(fill in the blank). Perhaps subject A is experiencing difficulties and that is why subject A...(fill in the blank.) I try not to stop with the action itself. In that way, it keeps me remembering my own behavior that requires conjuctions and adverbs. The next topic of consideration, PSALMS ABOUT RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS addresses these issues in the next 17 psalms. The first, Psa. 1 is one that I memorized as a child. The theme is vitality of righteousness and vulnerabillity of the wicked. The ungodly are addressed throughout the seventeen songs. I will refrain from commentary as the message is clearly stated. Psa. 1 says, Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. This first psalm clinches what this topic expresses. The next psalm is Psa. 14. It is of David. The first stanza says, The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. In the third stanza, David writes: Will evildoers never learn_those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the Lord? There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge. Characteristics of a righteous person is explained in Psa. 15, also of David. Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? And the second stanza continues: He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander  on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usuary and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. In the next psalm, Psa. 36 depravity of the wicked and favor of the righteous is addressed. It is written by David, the servant of the Lord. In the second stanza we find, Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies... In Psalm 37 the theme encompasses that the righteous poor have no cause to envy the wicked. In the first stanza: Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Stanza thirteen says, I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children are blessed. I invite you to read the entire psalm. Finally, Psa. 39 addresses difficulty withholding outrage; reminder of life's brevity. It is a psalm of David. In the second stanza, "Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and from: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it... Please be congnizant that excerpts are presented from these psalms. Care has been taken to choose those I think are most appropriate. I encourage you to read them for yourselves. However, for those who do not, you will be provided a spectrum of David's songs. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, January 3, 2010

 

Imagine a bicycle wheel. Now, picture uneven spokes. That is the metaphor given by Pastor Mike at my church during his weekly Sunday sermons. The point of the figurative language was to illustrate that sometimes life is unbalanced_physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. Your goal in life should be to sow with a goal. And your chief concern should be to have a balanced life that erupts from something outside yourself. Humanism is the buzz word of the day. In other words, we can make it from sheer will. I am most aware that, so far, we have studied the Hebrew Scriptures. I have, however, referenced prophetic verses that lead toward the birth, life and death of the Messiah. I am aware that there are some of my believers who will release their reliance on my exposition when I mention Jesus Christ directly. That is exactly what will take place at this time. I have previously stated that the entire bible leads toward the birth of the Messiah. Well, in his talk, Pastor Mike said that in order to achieve a balanced life, we must be born again. And that re-birth comes through Jesus Christ. The self-help sections of our book stores, and even this web site cannot help you unless you have accepted Jesus as your savior and have been filled with holy spirt. Some may say, 'you are jumping the gun here, aren't you?' Well, I suppose so. And necessarily so. All of the prayers we have prayed have insinuated the need for meditation. Now, at the risk of losing some of my followers, I introduce Jesus as the Messiah. After reading the psalms presented in this segment, I have determined that many are best read at your leisure. I choose to select those I consider most comforting to my friends. Psa. 40 alludes to recognition of true religion in righteous living. Let us look at the first stanza: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. In the second stanza: Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. And excerpts from the fourth stanza read, Do not withold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your truth always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Psa. 49, of the sons of Korah, is about spiritual insight better than wealth robbed by death.  It reads: Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike: My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding. I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle. In the last stanza: Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed_and men praise you when you prosper_he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life. True significance of sacrificing; jeopardy of wicked are the themes of Psa. 50. Please read it for  yourself. In Psa. 73 Asaph writes about folly of riches compared with blessings of righteous. I also invite you to examine this at a later time. This prayer we  pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, January 4, 2010

 

As we screech to a halt of this segment of the psalms, we do so with references to evil. THE OXFORD DESK DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS defines evil in many ways. For instance, it is explained as morally bad; wicked, harmful, disagreeable. And those are just the adjectives. The list goes on. Some view it as an act requiring a slap on the wrist with a humorous twist and others see it as being diabolical and of the devil. Many engage in acts of worship to an evil god and others wear the regalia of the wicked. Some of the psalms referencing evil elements may be considered a double entendre. That is, they may be open to more than one interpretation. For that reason, I have not included lyrics from a few of them. Not because of their double meaning because the bible is filled with them. But, I try to select the psalms that are openly relevant to my friends. Hence, I am asking you to read Psa. 76, a psalm of Asaph, independently. It speaks of God's wrath against evil to be greatly feared. The next psalm, the eighty-second is of Asaph and evolves around the theme, though all are "gods," the wicked will nevertheless die. You are encouraged to read that one also. Psa. 84 is of the Sons of Korah and its subject is superiority of the house of God over dwellings of the wicked. The fifth and final stanza reveals familiar lines: Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. And two verses completes the song: O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. Psa. 90 is a prayer of Moses the man of God. In the first stanza we find, Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. And in the second stanza: You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning_though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. And the third stanza will also be considered. It reads: We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years_or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Only the righteous will truly flourish is the main idea of Psa. 92. The substance of the second stanza reads, For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts! The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand; that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed.  But you, O Lord, are exalted forever. And in the next stanza is found: For surely your enemies, O Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered. You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.  And in the final stanza; The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him." Psa. 112 has benefits accruing to a righteous person as its focus. Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. Stanza three continues: His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness  light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Please read the last psalm of this topical consideration later. It is Psa. 115. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do your receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, January 5, 2010

 

Some think there are  no absolutes in life. I say believe in God and His Holy Scriptures. Therein are the unconditionals you seek. The adage, "laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone" is not an absolute. For you will discover that, as you improve in your state of depression, many will not rejoice with you. I have found that to be true. After twenty years of suffering it  has been my experience that there are some who continue to shoot arrows in your direction. I believe it is because many of them are depressed and envy someone who is recovering from the very malady from which they suffer. When this happens you must press on. Stay joyful and continue to praise God from whom all blessings flow. The topic of the  next thirty-six songs is PSALMS OF JOY AND PRAISE. The subject of Psa. 8 is praise for man's glory and status in God's sight. In the first stanza David writes, O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. And in the third stanza:  When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. In Psa. 9 the topic for consideration is praise for God's judgment against wicked nations. It is a psalm of David. In the first, I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. And the third reads, The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment, He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psa. 16 exhorts in the first stanza: Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. In the third, David writes, Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. And the final division says, Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. The finality of Psa. 19, which discusses praise for God's creation and for his laws, has this to say: Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Consider Psa. 21 independently. It discusses praise for the king's blessings and reminder of God's wrath. It is of David. The last to be considered is Psa. 24, a psalm of David. In it David writes about the earth belonging to the King of glory. The first stanza: The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. And the last: Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty_he is the King of glory. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you believe it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Wednesday, Januarty 6, 2010

 

My husband and I were discussing Psalms. I explained to him the challenge I face as I edit each segment. Unlike most of the other scriptures, David offers the prayers through his songs. So I don't. I try not to rehash what is presented in the psalms as they clearly make known their subject matter. My husband replied, "Honey, the psalms are all about praise." And I hadn't considered it quite in that manner. My husband has a way of simplifying things. Look at the themes for most of the songs and you will find the word "praise" peppered throughout most of them. The first psalm of David for this segment doesn't directly feature the word, "praise," but it implies that God is the power and glory as seen in the lightening. What is it, if not praise? The last metrical unit of Psa. 29 says, The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. The recurrent focus of Psa. 33 is "sing praises to God for his power, purpose, and love." The final stanza says, We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. The main idea of Psa. 65 is praise for God's forgiveness, power, and physical blessings. It is of David. The first division says, Praise awaits you, O God in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of  your holy temple. And praise for God's deliverance from the oppression of sin is the subject matter of Psa. 66. It begins: Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is  your power that your enemies cringe before you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name."  And it ends: Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Psa. 67 is a psalm of praise and prayer for God's blessings. It begins, May God be gracioius to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. The last song of this segment is Psa. 68, Praise for a God of power who cares about individual problems. It is of David. I encourage you to read it. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Thursday, January 7, 2010

 

My primary care doctor doesn't leave any stone unturned when it comes to health care. A recently hired employee described him as "caring." She told me that since she had been there she has personally witnessed five occasions in which patients were diagnosed with life-threatening diseases that no other health care professional was able to detect. Though youngish he is well known among the specialty doctors, as well as lab technicians. That is the good part. But, when you must have blood work done every three months and wait for the results, you have mixed emotions. Well, whenever I am waiting for my fate, I praise the Lord even more. I praise him during the exam; while the lab test is administered and after I get the results. But, I especially praise him BEFORE I get the results. If the psalms are about praise, then we must learn to praise God during all seasons of our lives. In this division of our present topical arrangement, we find that Psa. 75 considers praise to the great Judge of the earth. In the first stanza it relates, We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds. And in Psa. 93 the prominent message is praise for God's majesty and holiness. In the last stanza, we find: Your statues stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord. Praise for God's discipline for man and nations is the topic of Psa. 94. Considering the first stanza: O Lord, the God who avenges, O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, O Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. How long will the wicked, O Lord, how long will the wicked be jubilant? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge? The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. In the second stanza: Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not reject his people; Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it. An excerpt of the third stanza reveals: When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psa. 97 discusses rejoicing because of God's righteousness and justice. It begins: The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. And it ends: Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name. The first stanza of Psa. 98 will be considered. It emphasizes a song of praise for the salvation of the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and  revealed his righteousness to the nations. Please read Psa. 99 later. It exalts God who is holy and just. Let us consider Psa. 100 in its entirety. It is about the joy of being children of a loving and faithful God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. In the second stanza: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, January 8, 2010

 

Insight into the scriptures is not easy. It is made less challenging when you know that the creativity and understanding is granted you by God. It is important to avoid re-hashing what is already expressed unless it expands the idea and makes it more applicable to a certain population as I attempt to do. As I prepared for this submission I read the first lines of Psa. 103: Praise the Lord, O my soul. And that was a familiar phrase. I have often heard it reverberate in hymns sung in churches. But, then the psalms are songs. So, in addition to praising the Lord, David and his associates offered melodies to be sung by the people. Let us continue our analysis of Psa. 103. It is a praise for a compassionate God. And is of David. Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits_who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that  your youth is renewed like the eagles. The second division says, The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. And the third: He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children_with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. I request that you read Psa. 104, praise for the wonders of God's creation later. Psa. 113, praise for a Lord of heaven who is sensitive, will be considered in its entirety. Praise the Lord. Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over the nations, his glory above the heavens, Who is like the Lord our God, the one who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. Please read Psa. 114 at another time_how God's wonders ought to bring trembling. In Psa. 117 praise for God's love and faithfulness will be discussed. It, too, will be considered in its entirety: Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, January 9, 2010

 

I was thrown a curved ball when I looked at the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. According to LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE, Psalm 119 may have been written by Ezra after the temple was rebuilt (Ezra 6: 14, 15). The footnote explains that the psalm was a repetitive meditation on the beauty of God's Word and how it helps us stay pure and grow in faith. Further, it states that there are 22 carefully constructed sections, each corresponding to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse beginning with the letter of its section. We have mentioned how God's Word can be repetitive but not redundant. This was an oral culture and the Word was memorized and passed on. The focus of Psa. 119 is praise for the insight and guidance of God's laws. When one contemplates laws it is not usually done with admiration. But the laws of the Creator are different. Very different. Albeit this may be the longest psalm, it will be the shortest commentary. I am going to trust that you will read this important psalm later. There are nuggets therein that can appeal to all circumstances. And the important thing, is to love God's laws and consider them a blessing rather than a restriction. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, January 10, 2010

 

My Sunday worship usually terminates into something wonderful. I am sure you have noticed that. Pastor Mike, Executive Pastor, at my church is sensitive to the needs of the entire person. Subsequently, his sermons reflect this desire. He gave a two-part talk about the balanced life. My ears perked when I heard the topic to be considered. That is what this website is all about_achieving balance in your life: physical, emotional, spiritual, financial and relational development. Stengthening one area at the expense of another will result in a lop-sided existence. And that is when my friends succumb to depression. Recently, I discussed the foundation for a balanced life_belief in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And I did so with the knowledge that my focus, at this time, is upon the Hebrew scriptures. I also mentioned that the entire bible leads toward the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There is no getting around it. And it is appropriate to reference Him at any time. Many of my friends are planting "seeds" that yield an undesirable crop. Pastor Mike made clear that if you don't like your harvest you must plant different seeds. He admonished the congregation to push away from the television set and slide in the direction of a good book. I, too, give such advice. Additionally, he related the dangers of negative feelings. When these emotions are the driving force, we provide a place for the devil to enter our lives. Many of my friends concern themselves with fitting into a "normal" mold. Pastor Mike views things differently. My friends, question what the world views as typical. For this submission Psa. 122 will be considered. It is of David. Like most of the psalms, the songs praised the Israelites for their refusal to accept what was "normal" at that time. The main idea of the psalm is praise for Jerusalem and the house of the Lord. In the first stanza, it says I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord," Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem. Praise for escape from enemies is the focus of Psa. 124. It is of David. If the Lord had not been on our side_let Israel say_if the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. I invite you to read Psa. 133, with joy of brothers living harmoniously as the theme. Also, please read Psa. 134, a call for temple servants to praise God. The prominent idea of Psa. 135 focuses on the many things for which temple servants can give praise. Consider stanza four: Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, through all generations. For the Lord will  vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants. Psa. 136 is a special poem of thanksgiving for all things. Please read it later. Psa. 138 is a praise to the faithful of God. It is of David. In the last stanza the following words are found: Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me; your love, O Lord, endures forever_do not abandon the works of your hands. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, January 11, 2010

 

There is a sign in the office of Pastor Teddy, the Care Clergy at my church, which says LET EMOTIONS SUBSIDE AND THEN DECIDE. Well, at least that is what Pastor Mike, the Executive Pastor reports. Therein is my segue into this commentary. I spent the afternoon phoning family and friends. I do that about every four months. I just get out the address book and call. I hate the awkardness that arises when you speak with them exclusively at funerals. The Lord inspired me to phone a friend from my days at the university. Her voice was shaky and she admitted that she was having a bad time with depression. She lives alone after a divorce and an empty nest. She teaches at a high school in the southeast. She explained all of the classic symptoms of depression and admitted she was engaged in what could easily be called STINKIN THINKIN.  She was in a highly agitated state of mind. I directed her to the bible and a book written by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale called THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. We promised to speak often. The first psalm of this section, Psa. 139 speaks of the wonder of God's total familiarity with each life. It made me think of my friend. It is a psalm of David. O lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. Excerpts from the third stanza: If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; for darkness is as light to you. In Psa. 145 the focus is praise to a faithful, loving and righteous God. It is a psalm of praise written by David. The third stanza says, The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you... And in the next stanza, The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their  food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Please read the next psalm later. It is Psa. 148 and speaks of all creatures praising the God of creation. Additionally, read Psa. 150, a call for all things to praise the Lord. This prayer we  pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Tuesday, January 12, 2010

 

A psalm for every sentiment. Even though that is true, the editor of  THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER was able to organize them into topics. The next 16 psalms lend themselves to addressing a variety of sentiments. And so do secular songs. Many gospel singers later become pop, blues, rhythm and blues and country singers. And that is just for starters. I enjoy Christian music and that should come as no surprise. But, I also like music of other genres. I listen to their secular intent and inject spiritual themes. And, I discovered I am not the only one to do so. Some spiritual songs are sung with a beat that supersedes its Christian nature. Some use the exact lyrics and melodies employed by their worldly counterparts. It just depends upon your perspective. While some may direct their songs to a lover, another may conjure up  spiritual imagery. For instance, Ms. Franklin sings about a bridge over troubled waters. The lyrics say, "like a bridge over troubled waters, I will comfort you." Well, I love that song. I hum it as well as use it as music by which I exercise. But, when I sing its lyrics, I don't think of a person. I think of God. He is my bridge over troubled water. Miss Warwick sings "each morning I wake up; before I put on my makeup, I say a little prayer for you." Therein lies another opportunity to think of God. I substitute "I say a little prayer TO YOU"                                                                                                                                 when I sing it. Let us see some of the sentiments addressed in the next psalms. Psa. 4 extols that mercy demands obedience. It is of David. Answer me when I call to you. O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. In the last stanza: Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. The next psalm David wrote, Psa. 12, expresses the misuse of the gift of speech. In the  third stanza, "Because of the oppresion of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the Lord. "I will protect them from those who malign them." And the words of the Lord are flawless like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. In the first stanza of Psa. 20, a psalm of David: May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. The theme expresses a prayer for others' welfare, and expression of trust. Expression of trust in God and his instruction is the idea behind Psa. 25. It, too, is of David. To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Excerpts from the last stanza: Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish, Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. Blessedness of confession and forgiveness of sins is the theme of Psa. 32. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my trangressions to the Lord"_and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psa, 38, also of David, discusses the agonizing confession of sin. The final stanza says, O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Wednesday, January 13, 2010

 

What image do you have when you hear the words "depression," "mental illness" "paranoia" or "schizophrenia?" Is it the Medeival conception of madmen? Is it the depiction of them in the media? Mental  illness is not new. It has a sordid history. Those with cerebral sicknesses were once hidden, at best, or thrown into assylums at worse. Many did not belong there. Albeit we have a way to go in terms of our attitudes towards it, the plight of those with mental concerns have considerably changed. Modern medications have kept many from an institutional life. Melancholy, a euphemism for those who fell under the umbrella of mentally ill, goes back to biblical times. David, the writer of most of the psalms we have considered, experienced it. So did countless others. The first psalm, of the Sons of Korah, Psa. 42 considers the importance of hoping in God when one is depresed. The fourth and fifth stanzas say: By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me_a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?" My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" Please consider the next psalm, Psa. 53 later. It touches upon the universality of sin and its consequences. It is of David. Psa. 58, outrage against leaders who promote injustice, is of David. Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns_whether they be green or dry_the wicked will be swept away, The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked, Then men will say, "Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth." Please examine Psa. 81 at your leisure, the continual stubborness of Israel. Expression of commitment to righteous living is the theme of Psa. 101. David writes, I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise. I will be careful to lead a blameless life_when will you come to me? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, January 14, 2010

 

Sometimes "praise" is demonstrated. Recently, my mother moved in with me. She has spent spotty periods of time in the past. But, this visit has a more permanent stamp upon it. My father fell and their return to total independence is dubious. It means more responsibilities for me; I have always managed her business and reminded her to take her medicine on time, and even cooked for her. But, this time I will be a caretaker. Not that I am new to it as I am a mother and grandmother, but I have never cared for an adult. But, this isn't ANY adult. She is the adult who nurtured me. So, to that extent I am PRAISING the Lord with my obedience to His admonition to honor our parents. This commandment even comes with an overt and immediate reward. Our days will be long. Today the first psalm relates how fearing a loving God is the beginning of understanding. The final stanza says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Only hope of redemption is in God's forgiveness. Psa. 130 will be considered in its entirety. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put  your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. Psa. 131 is of David and its concept is expression of quiet humility. The first stanza will be considered. My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.  In David's psalm, Psa. 141, prayer for wise use of one's speech is featured. In the second stanza, Set a guard over my mouth, O lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies. It continues: Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers; their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs, and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken. They will say, "As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have scattered at the mouth of the grave. Finally, in Psalm 146 the theme is the God who cares is the God to trust. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, January 15, 2010

 

David was a king and a parent. He was an accomplished man. But he was just that_a man. As the king approaches death, another coup is in progress. And like days gone by, it involves one his own loins. Adonijah was like Absalom in many ways. He was born next to him; he was handsome and thirsted for power. In 1Kgs. 15:10 we find  that David never disciplined him. David, a man of great military skills was weak when it came to his own children. And isn't that true of many of us? We fear stoking ill will in our off springs, so we just turn a blind eye. Lord, many of my friends are products of such a childhood. Perhaps, Father, if their parents had tightened the reigns on them when they were younger, they would have escaped the plights in which they find themselves. Like his brother, Absalom, Adonijah conferred with others. He was determined to be king. He invited cohorts to an elaborate sacrifice. Some were priests. Lord, let my friends know that to obey is better than a sacrifice. But, King David had his advisors as well. David was ill and this is not the way to end one's life. But, God was with him. And He worked through Nathan who advised Bathsheba, Solomon's mother. In 1Kgs. 1:11-14 the scriptures say: Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, "Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become King without our lord David's knowing it? Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in to King David and say to him, 'My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: "Surely Solomn your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne"? 'Why then has Adonijah become king?' While you are still there talking to the king, I will come in and confirm what you have said." Nathan spills the beans regarding the plot his son has planned. David confirms his desire for Solomon to succeed him on the throne to Bathsheba. In 1Kgs. 1:32-37 the king calls in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoida. King David directed them: "Take your lord's servants with you and set Solomon my son on my own mule and take  him down to Gihon. There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, 'Long live King Solomon!' Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah." That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Adonijah yielded to the will of the people, as well as to the desires of his dying father. Solomon spared his life. Please read David's last prophecy in 2Sam. 23:1-7 and David's last words to Solomon at 1kgs. 2:1-9. Todays affirmation: I will understand that discipline doesn't mean rejection. From my earthly parents, as well as from my heavenly father. I will understand that if another sibling has been placed above me in my parents' will, it may be that he/she is best suited to manage the estate. I will not grow bitter over what others say or try to do to me. I will trust in God, for He will resolve it, if I don't tire out. I will learn to listen to the advice of a trusted source. This prayer we pray in the name of  the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, January 16, 2010

 

Solomon nipped them in the bud. Starting with Adonijah. Solomon's mother Bathsheba was approached by his older brother to request the hand of Abishag, the Shunammite, in marriage. 1Kgs. 1:13-18 reveal what happened. Even though Bathsheba made the request for the hand of David's care giver in his older years, Solomon was able to penetrate the motives behind the request. So orders were given to Benaiah to strike him down. (1Kgs. 2:19-25). He doesn't stop here. He "cleaned" house. Next, Abiatha was removed as priest. 1Kgs. 2:26.27 tell why he spared his life. But that wasn't the case with Joab. Solomon had several reasons for ordering his demise. He  conspired with Adonijah and he shed innocent blood. 1Kgs. 2:28-34 find the king commanding Benaiah to strike down Joab while he clung  to the horns of the altar. After, what appear to be a "hit man" endeavor, those involved in following through with the executions were elevated. Benaiah over the army and Zadok as priest. Shimei was spared_with conditions. He was basically placed under house arrest and denied the privilege of leaving the city of Jerusalem. His slaves knew of his restriction and fled to Gath, with Shimei in hot pursuit. This error in judgment resulted in his death. (1Kgs. 2:39-46). To ensure smooth sailing for him, Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt by marrying his daughter. That is hard to comprehend. The blood and gore that resulted when King Solomon wanted to cement his reign. But, he shows wisdom, as recorded at 1Kgs. 3:5-14. This is a familiar account. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." In an excerpt, Solomon says, "Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" The Lord was pleased with Solomon's answer and granted him wealth, long life and honor. Lord, let my friends understand that they, too, must be as Solomon and seek discernment. For there is nothing greater. In 1Kgs. 3:16-28 we discover that Solomon is a wise judge. As is well known to many, Solomon solved a dispute between two prostitutes who had given birth and resided in the same house. The infant died in the night when one of the  prostitutes rolled over on the child. Then, she exchanged her dead child for the son of her roommate. After much bickering the  king said, "This one says, 'My son is alive and your son is dead,' while that one says, 'No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.'" Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." I think you know the rest of the story. The actual mother refused to see the child killed. But the prostitute who professed to be the child's mother wanted the king to sever the child into two pieces. Today's affirmation: I will allow another responsible person to care for my children if being with me is not in their best interest. I may need help to concentrate on my illness. It may be the hardest decision I will have to make, but I will pray to the Lord and ask for guidance. I will pray for wisdom, understanding that it starts with a fear of the Lord. This prayer we pray in the name of the  risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, January 17, 2010

 

I have been providing a buffer for you as I chose uplifting verses from the psalms. And, I referenced the Messiah when necessary. As previously mentioned, it is impossible to escape consideration of His life, death and ressurrection as the entire bible climaxes into those events. Today we will consider the building of the Temple. It is quite an undertaking. And quite a structure. And even though we continue to study the Hebrew text, there is an issue that transcends its content. That is, failure to acknowledge Jesus as your Lord and Savior can result in spiritual death. Plainly stated, you could be, as Pastor Mike phrased it, "a heartbeat from hell." As I listened to the Sunday service I pondered as to how I would segue from a description of the  temple with all its glory into a frank discussion about hell. You need to understand that Jesus replaced the need for animal sacrifices at the temple. He became the sacrificial lamb. Some of my friends  do not accept the fact that Jesus' shed blood paved the way for our redemption. Neither do they accept the concept of a place known as hell or perdition. I am not presenting a dialogue in apologetics in order to convince you of such. We all have freedom of choice. And regardless of what I say, there are some who will take their chances. But, before I consider the temple as was known in 1Kings, you may want to skip ahead and examine Luke 16:19-31. The story of Lazarus is a familiar one to Christians, but even they have not decided whether it is a parable or scripture written to warn us to avoid the behavior of the rich man who  ignored the plight of poor Lazurus. The rich man ended up in Hades and Lazarus eventually went to Heaven. Now, let us focus on the temple that Solomon built. 1Kgs. 5:1-9 and 2Chron, 2:1,3-16 are about the agreement made between Solomon and the king of Tyre. King David and  King Hiram of Tyre had experienced a good relationship, so the king desired to assist Solomon in the building of the temple. Solomon wrote to King Hiram, "The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. ..." "Send me, therefore, a man skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving, to work in Judah and Jerusalem and with my skilled craftsmen, whom my father David provided. Send me also cedar, pine and algum logs from Lebanon, for I know that your men are skilled in cutting timber there. My men will work with yours to provide me with plenty of lumber, because the temple I build must be large and magnificent. I will give you servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, twenty thousand cors of ground wheat, twenty thousand cors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine and twenty thousand baths of olive oil." There is a detailed description of the temple  in 1Kgs. 6 and 7, as well as 2 Chron. 3, 4. In 1 Kgs. 6:9a,14;6:37,38 it tells of the completion of construction. The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it. Please fill in the details through further study. Today's affirmation: I realize that my illness may result from guilt. I know that I cannot continue  ignoring God's Laws and expect to be happy. I may have my own rules but they have resulted in unhappiness and turmoil. Perhaps I should give God's way a chance. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, January 18, 2010

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. A big dream. He knew in his heart that he would not experience the vision. He knew that he would not see "the promised land" of racial equality. King David had a dream as well. He wanted to build a beautiful temple. But, he did not live to see his dream become a reality. Both were visionaries. And the fantasy of both came to fruition. When King Solomon dedicated the temple, he fulfilled the desires of his father, David. When millions of people of all races endured persecution, they made the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr become a fact. After the temple was built 1 kgs. 8:1-11 and 2Chron. 5:2-14 say, Then Solomon summoned to Jerusalm the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord's covenant from Zion, the City of David. And all the men of Israel came together to the king at the time of the festival in the seventh month. Lord, let my friends know that they, too, can dream. And should. A positive vision will help them heal. Lord, help them to see themselves well. Help them to look to you for that hope. The scripture continues: The priests then brought the ark of the Lord's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. Father, there is a place for my friends_beneath your  wings. You, Lord, are the wind beneath them. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. Jehovah, many of my friends are living under a cloud. Let them, Lord, turn to you and you will replace that cloud of gloom with one of hope. In 1Kgs. 8:12-21 and 2 Chron. 6:1-11 we find Solomon's address to the people. "...The Lord has kept the promise he made. I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. There I have placed the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with the people of Israel..." "...Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive..." Solomon continued to beseech the Lord for various circumstances in which his people may find themselves. Please read them at 1Kgs. 8:31-53 and 2Chron. 6:22-39. Lord, I also pray for relief for my friends when they encounter tribulation. You listened to Solomon and you will listen to them.  2Chron. 6:40-42 extols the end of Solomon's prayer: "Now arise, O Lord God and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may your saints rejoice in your goodness. O Lord God, do not reject your annointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant." Following the prayer the Lord's Glory filled the temple. Today's affirmation: I must believe that the Lord is the Lord of us all, then and now. I am never too soiled for the Lord not to be able to clean me up. I will believe that with all of my heart. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, January 19, 2010

 

Royalty has its disadvantages. King Saul discovered it. So did Absalom when he attempted to usurp the throne from his father, King David. Then, Adonija, born next to Absalom, attempted a failed coup. During biblical times, God chose whom He wished to rule over the Israelites. And, often, it would be the least likely candidate. Not necessarily the oldest, or most handsome. But always the one who loved Him and would do His will. This was the case with Solomon. Not only was he not the oldest but he was the product of a marriage between a king and his lover. So, birthright is not always a requirement for succession_either in the royal family nor in the family of man.  In the last segment, Solomon constructed a magnanimous building that he dedicated to the Lord. Then, he built himself a palace that, according to 1Kgs. 7:1, took thirteen years to complete. Then in 1Kgs. 9:1-9, we find that the Lord spoke to Solomon at night. Father, let my friends know that sometimes this may happen to them. The message may be different but equally profound. Lord, I pray that  you reveal to my friends the roads over which you want them to travel. And, I pray, Lord that you inspire them to listen to your directions. The Lord began by saying, "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices..." "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.' Then the Lord warned Solomon what would happen if he failed to follow His instructions. In 1Kgs, 9:10-14 it speaks of the cities Solomon gave King Hiram. But he was not pleased with the gift. Lord, let my friends know that  you have given them gifts as well: gifts of the senses; gifts of families and the most precious of all_the gift of your Son who has redeemed them. 1Kgs. continues, concomitantly with 2Chronicles, and relate the cities that Solomon built, along with the fleet of trading ships that sailed at sea along with the ships of Hiram. 1Kgs. 4:29-34 says: God gave wisdom and very great insight and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Read 1Kgs. 10:14-21 and 2Chron. 1:15; 9:13-20.27,22_24 to discover the depths of Solomon's wealth. 1Kgs. 4:20,25: The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. During Solomon's lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheeba, lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree. Heavenly father, that is what you desire for my friends. But, you want them to know that these things take place when they obey your will. And that, the  peace and security that awaits them is nothing compared to that which will be theirs in eternity. The Queen of Sheba came from over a thousand miles through unfriendly terrain to see the wealth and hear the wisdom of Solomon. In 1 Kgs. 10:1-13 and 2Chron. 9:1-12 we find the queen at the feet of Solomon_asking questions and getting answers. She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness." I invite you to read Psa. 72:1-19, a praise from Solomon celebrating his blessings. Lord, my friends have much about which they can rejoice. I pray that they observe nature and the goodness therein. Lord, I pray that they look deep within themselves for the joy that may not always be superficial. Today's affirmation: I will pray to the Lord for wisdom. I know that it is discernment that will assist me to grow in knowledge. I know that knowledge from You is the only type that will bring me meaningful peace. I need peace and security in my life. I know that it can be mine. I will earnestly pray for them. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, January 20, 2010

 

As we launch into the book of Proverb, a compilation of Solomon's  wise sayings in poetic form, I am inclined to reveal a few of my personal words of wisdom. Have you noticed that first names are used in the bible. And the only titles accompanying them are "son of ...." So, the glory is given to the parents and not the child.  I have often pondered why people insist upon "handles" before their names. Out of a sense of respect some say, and there is truth in that. But, many over do it. Some even use double nomenclature. Why do you require them? Is it to validate your worth? How about "child of God." Is that sufficient? In the book of Proverb, we find that Solomon evidences some of the gifts revealed in his father, David. Whereas David used music as his foundation for praise, Solomon uses poetry. Figurative language is often used to make a point. In other words, using words creatively to express a thought. This is done through comparison and contrast quite often. Obvious comparison is known as simile and implied comparison is identified as metaphor. I am reflecting upon my years of teaching Literature at the high school level. As  in the Psalms, Solomon has made the meanings clear and affirmations are not needed. I am using the topical arrangement found in DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Let us begin with INTRODUCTION TO WISDOM. The first topic will be THE CALL OF WISDOM and begins with Prov. 8:1-11. Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Excerpts from Prov. 8:12-31 say, My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. And in Prov. 8:32-36 we find: "Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death." The next proverb concentrates on BENEFITS OF FOLLOWING WISDOM. My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Prov2:1-22) It continues: Discrection will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men... Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,  the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. In Prov. 1:20-33 we discover the DANGERS OF REJECTING WISDOM. An excerpt: If you had responded to  my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I streteched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you_when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!" But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave. And in the final submission for this segment, SOLOMON'S PERSONAL PLEA, found in Prov. 4:1-27 we find, Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn...Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, January 21, 2010

 

Social networking on the internet has become very popular. They come from various sources. You sign up; you write personal information about yourself and include a photo, usually a flattering one. The service is free_or is it? Many companies have access to these sites as well as less desirable researchers. Sometimes you are contacted by persons from  your past. And, that can be a good thing_sometimes. They even feature games that keep you on the site for hours. Some "poke" you while others create "farms." The possibilities are endless. One of the positive things is that in order to contact someone you must be confirmed by them. And whenever you are approved as a friend you are given a list of others they know with whom you may also be familiar. In other words, MUTUAL FRIENDS. As I travel through Proverbs, I am inspired to find nuggets of wisdom in my daily routine. Here is one I discovered. Now, suppose those who log onto a social network considered Christ as a mutual friend. Their motive would be to "connect" with others to spread the gospel. Not to find a mate or a job, but to reach out to other believers. I think Solomon would approve of this bit of wisdom. For this submission, we will consider PROVERBS OF SOLOMON AND SAYINGS OF THE WISE. The first, Value of Wise Sayings. In Prov. 22:17-21 Solomon writes: pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have them ready on your lips. The next sub-heading, PURPOSE OF THE PROVERBS features sayings found in Prov. 1:1-7: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young_let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance_ for understanding proverbs and  parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Additional proverbs of Solomon are recorded by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah at Prov. 25:1. The next sub-group concentrates on PREEMINENCE OF GOD. FEAR OF THE LORD is featured at Prov. 9:10-12: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." 10:27 says The fear of the Lord adds length of life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. 14:26,27 relates: He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. And 15:33: The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humillity comes before honor. TRUST IN GOD OR SELF is the next topic for consideraton. Prov. 3:5-8, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil, This will bring health to your body and nourishment to  your bones. In 18:2, A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinion. In 18:10: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Couplets in DIVINE PROVIDENCE beginning with Prov. 15:3 and 16:4 say, The lord works out everything for his own ends_even the wicked for a day of disaster.  Proverbs of INSIGHT AND IGNORANCE starts with Wisdom and folly. In 16:22: Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools. And in 17:12: Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly. Proverbs 26:4-11 deals with fools. You may want to read that. DISCERNMENT AND UNDERSTANDING is to be considered next. Prov. 10:13 extols, Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment. In 14:8, The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. And in 14:15: A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps. Finally, KNOWLEDGE is explained. Prov. 13:16 says, Every  prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted  Friday, January 22, 2010

 

Recently my family "grazed" at our favorite restaurant, which features an unlimited buffet. This is not the best place to go when you are watching your caloric intake.  My mother resides in my home now, and she accompanied us. You can learn much from your mother. She is a slow eater. I, on the other hand, "wolf" mine down with little mastication. The food just slides down the esophagus. This habit emerged from thirty-two years of eating and running while employed as a teacher/speech language pathlogist. During a thirty minute lunch period you have to make a "pit" stop; check your mail; return calls and try to breathe in between. So, you learn to eat quickly. A leisurely pace is not an option. You either eat quickly or you don't eat. Contrastly, my mother spent most of her adult life as a domestic engineer. She did things at her own rate of speed. In between making beds and cleaning house. Consequently, she has developed the habit of taking tiny bites from her food. This behavior is irritating to me as I am finished and ready to go. Of course, she is right. It is better to eat slowly. You eat less and have better digestion. My excuse to her is, "this is just the way I am." Is that the excuse we give God? Lord, you know me and "this is just the way I am." We can conjure up that response for almost anything under the sun. But, what I must do, and perhaps you should do is to question: why is this the way I am? And, more importantly, why can't I change the way I am? SHARING AND RESPONDING TO WISDOM is the header for this submission. The first being ADVICE AND REBUKE. In Prov. 3:1,2 is found, My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. And in 10:8, The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. In Prov. 12:15, The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. The following is found in 13:1, A wise son heeds his father's instructions, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. At 17:10: A rebuke impresses a man of discernment ,more than a hundred lashes a fool. And at 19:20, Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. At 19:25, Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence, rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. In 19:27 is found, Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. At 27:5,6, Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Finally, at 29:1, A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed_without remedy. The next catagory is VALUE OF ADVISERS. Attend to 20:18: Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. DISCIPLINE is the next heading. Prov. 3:11,12, My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. 12:1: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. And at 13:24, He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. 15:5 reads, A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence. At 15:32 we find, He who ignores discipline despises  himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. Next, 19:18, Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death. And the famed 22:6: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. And further down in 22:15: Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of  discipline will drive it far from him. For final consideration in this segment, Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. Please read the four couplets referencing LAWKEEPING in Prov. 28 at a later time. Considered next will be REPENTANCE found AT Prov. 14:9. Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright. He who conceals his sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renouncees them finds mercy, is the advice found at 28:13. GOOD AND EVIL will be considered next, beginning with the sub-heading, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS. In Prov. 10:6,7 : The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. And in 10:16, The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.  Examine 11:18-20, The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. And in 12:2,3 is found, A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man. Further in 12:21, No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. And in 13:9: The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out. Highlighted under the heading, INTEGRITY AND PERVERSION is Prov. 10:9, The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out. In finality is the sub-heading, APPROPRIATE CONSEQUENCES. In Prov. 3:33-35, The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. And in 10:22, The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. Further, 10:24,25, What the wicked dreads will overtake him; what the righteous desire will be granted. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Saturday, January 23, 2010

 

Most people march merrily along, until they have to keep the beat with a different drummer. Me included. I am very structured. Albeit my house isn't spotless, there is organized chaos. Everything has its place. When someone moves into your territory and takes over the master bedroom, then there may be discord. Except that the invader is your mother. That makes the difference. I live in a modest home; in fact, mine was the first built on the street_and practically in the neighborhood, over thirty years ago. Little has changed about my house. And I like it that way. I try to maintain it and the price is definitely right. There are only two bedrooms; it was built for my daughter and I. So, when my mother took over the master bedroom that left only a guest room with twin beds for my husband and I. Along with the master sleeping quarters is the private bathroom. So, now I must share, what my husband had claimed as his bathroom. The point of this narrative is to illuminate the fact that these accommodations were made freely and willingly. The first entry in today's submission speaks of motive and heart. Why am I doing this? Is it to be admired by men/women who marvel, 'isn't she a loving daughter?' Is it to be blessed and have long life as the bible promises? Am I giving up to get something in return? I hope not. You do what is right because it is right to do it. The first section presented today is SINCERE MOTIVATION. MOTIVE AND THE HEART is initially featured. Prov. 16:2 says, All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. In 20:27, The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man, it searches out his inmost being. And in 27:19, As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man. FALSE WORSHIP is the next focus, featuring Prov. 15:29, The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous. And in 21:3, To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. DUPLICITY will be explored next. Prov. 23:6-8: Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will  vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments. Let us analyze CONCERN FOR OTHERS, BEGINNING WITH LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS. In Prov. 20:6, many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? 25:19 says, Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble. In LOVE, HATRED, AND COMPASSION we find an entry from Prov. 10:12: hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. In 15:17, Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred. And in 17:5: he who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished. Peruse 25:21,22: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Under the topic, KINDNESS AND MERCY, we find, Prov. 12:25, An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. And practical advice is awaiting you at Prov. 25:16,17 under the sub-heading OVERSTAYING WELCOME. If you find honey; eat just enough_too much of it, and you will vomit. Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house_too much of you, and he will hate you. CONCERN FOR SELF is discussed next with PRIDE AND HUMILITY leading the way. Prov. 11:2, When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. And in 12:9, Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food. Further enlightenment on this subject is found  in 13:7, One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. In 16:18,19 pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. At 27:2, Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. There are couplets on SELFISHNESS (PROV. 18:1); JEALOUSY (PROV. 27:4) ENVY (PROV. 14:30) AND GREED (PROV. 28:25) that may be considered later. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, January 24, 2010

 

The Holy Scriptures are controversial. Of course. When you cover as many subjects over such an extensive time span, you are bound to "get under the skin" of many. One such arena is the treatment of women in the bible. This is a sensitive issue and one that is not to be approached lightly. In other words, it is a touchy subject. In today's segment, Solomon speaks of adultery. Solomon's birth resulted from an adulterous relationship between his mother and King David. So, it is a relevant issue. You will find that, when writing on the subject, he used the feminine gender when referencing the culprit in the affair. Well, that brings us back to the issue of females in the Holy Scriptures. First, one must accept certain facts. Adam was created first. An omnipotent God chose a male for the first creation. One cannot escape that. It is also recorded that Eve was the partner who was enticed by the serpent to eat of the tree of knowledge. But, do those two known facts imply that the feminine gender is the weaker vessel? Not necessarily. When speaking of relationships within a marriage, the issue of headship cannot be ignored. That, man is the head of the woman. But, then Christ is the head of man. So, men have a great responsibility. I accept that arrangement. But, my husband admits choosing me as his wife because of my strength. And, so did many others. He did not want a mamby-pamby wimp. We are a team. I am his partner, not his pawn. I am respectful, but not subservient. Without women, there would be no men. And there are many women in the bible whose strength, courage and insight made a big difference in biblical history. Where would we be without such matriarchs as Deborah, prophetess and judge who joined with Barak to overthrow Sisera (Judges 4-5)? Or Rahab the prostitute who hid the two spies in Jericho and later became an ancestor to the Messiah. (Joshua 2) Or Tamar 1, daughter-in-law of Judah who bore him twin sons. Read Genesis 38 to find out how she accomplished that goal. And there are others like Ruth, a foreigner, who also was in the line of ancestry to the Messiah. There are so many others. As a woman, I am first to admit that men forget about us when it is time for promotion, assigment of duties in many churches and in some homes. I conclude that when it comes to positions of leadership, let the best "man" or "woMAN" do the job. In this segment, Solomon writes about CONTROL OF SELF. In Prov. 25:28 he writes, Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. In the next topic, RASHNESS, he writes in Prov. 20:25, It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows. Included under the topic, TEMPER AND PATIENCE, he observes in Prov. 12:16: A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. In 19:11, A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. And regarding DRUNKENESS AND GLUTTONY we find in Prov. 20:1, Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. In 23:19-21: Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. The submission under the heading, ADULTERY, is extensive. Please read it in its entirety later. Much on the subject can be found at Provers. 6 and 7. I will feature an excerpt from Prov. 5:1-6: For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. And the famed words of Prov. 5:15, Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Monday, January 25, 2010

 

We were all born with a flaw in our genetic blueprint. Not so, you may say. Yes. At birth all of humanity required a heart transplant. Why? Because of the inherent sins of our parents, Adam and Eve. They sinned and it affected all of us. The congenital surgery resulting from their errant ways is of a spiritual nature. God didn't want us to die, so He had to provide a channel through whom we could defy our destiny. That is where Jesus Christ comes in. And that is why we are studying the Hebrew Scriptures. It is all about redemption of our souls. Pastor Mike, in Sunday's service at my church expounded upon the characteristics of a new heart: first, it is loving; secondly, it is forgiving; additionally, it is trusting; it evidences the heart of a servant, and finally it is thankful. In this section of his Proverbs, Solomon elaborates about CONTROL OF THE TONGUE. The heart is the seat of emotion and the tongue reflects the state of the heart. So, there is  your segue. In the first division, WISE AND FOOLISH TALK is considered. In Prov. 15:7, The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. And in 16:23, A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. The next portion is RIGHTEOUS AND WICKED TALK. Prov. 10:20,21, The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. And in 10: 31,32 we find these words: The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. Notice what he says in 12:13,14, An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble. In 13:2, From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. Under the component, APPROPRIATE SPEECH is found in Prov. 25:11, A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. The element MAINTAINING SILENCE presents Solomon's thoughts at 13:3. He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. CONTROLLED SPEECH EXTOLS IN Prov. 15:1 the famous quote, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. And the theme, FLATTERY explains at Prov. 29:5, Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet. SLANDER AND GOSSIP is the next segment. We find at Prov. 20:19, A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. And you may be familiar with 26:20, Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. And  Prov. 25:23 is organized under the heading, HURTFUL TALK. He writes, As a north wind brings rain, so a sly tongue brings angry looks. QUARRELING is next considered. In Prov. 17:14 Solomon says, Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. LYING is examined next. Prov. 21:6, A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. And, finally POWER OF TONGUE is explored in Prov. 18:20,21: From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled; with the harvest of his lips he is satisfied. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, January 26, 2010

 

I am a "dove." I abhor intentional violence in any form, including upon the unborn. The blatant as well as the subtle. From harm rendered a fellow man to the depiction of it on the media screens or interactive games played in homes. Now, the act of violence perpetrated upon another is not new. Reference Cain, the eldest son of Adam who killed his brother Abel: Genesis 4. Then, there is the undeniable fact that God is known as Jehovah of Armies. It was He who spearheaded the victories won by his beloved Israelites, to the dismay of many non-believers. But that was righteous indignation. It all was done with a divine plan in mind. Even God realized that there were circumstances in which violence was unintentional. Consequently, he established the cities of refuge where the perpetrator would remain until the death of the high priest. I am especially perturbed by the depiction of violence in the media, in full view of children. This practice has its roots in antiquity. I grew up during the era of cowboys and Indians. There was a lot of shoot em up but it was violence of another genre. The television shows that I viewed could be watched by the entire family. Not so, today. The acts of force are so vivid. The blood oozes after a tempestuous hunt. I retreat to my bedroom following the news, which isn't exactly fun to watch. Today we will focus on DISHARMONY AND STRIFE in which Solomon addresses violence. The first poem is written under the heading, SOLICITATION TO EVIL. Prov. 16:29, how useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! These  men lie in wait for their  own blood; they waylay only themselves! And included under the caption, VIOLENCE, we find in Prov. 21:7, The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right. And included in the idea of MURDERERS, we find at Prov. 28:17, A man tormented by the guilt of murder will be a fugitive till death; let no one support him. CAUSING OTHERS HARM, references Prov. 3:29,30: Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you... and notice what Solomon writes regarding REVENGE: Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you. And what he writes under the heading DISSENSION AND STRIFE is often quoted. See Prov. 6:16-19: There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. In MEDDLING at Prov. 26:17, Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own. Regarding TRUTHFULNESS in Prov. 24:26 we find, An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Solomon continues with proverbs about accurate weights. Read one of them at Prov. 11:1 and  he even expounds upon BOUNDARY STONES in Prov. 22:28.  BRIBERY is the next heading. In Prov. 15:27: A greedy man brings trouble to his family but he who hates bribes will live. And WRONGFULLY OBTAINED GAINS is related at Prov. 10:2. OPEN-MINDEDNESS IS FOUND at Prov. 18:17, The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, January 27, 2010

 

My father has often said, "nothing is wrong with being poor, but it is so darn inconvenient." While there is some wisdom in that statement I think in the reverse, "being poor is so darn convenient but there is often something wrong with being rich." I recognize that there are many altruistic persons of means. But there are many who depend upon their riches to bring them peace and security. Then, there are the faux wealthy. They pretend to have money. Many even have the trappings of it. That is, they live in the "right" section of town; drive the "right" vehicles and educate their offspring at the "right" schools. They feel "less than" shopping at bargain basement stores when that is exactly where they need to be. They scratch out a living that, superficially, seems to be the perfect life. Some plan their lives as if they were jigsaw puzzles. They carefully select just the right person so that they will be assured of living the high life and having children with certain physical characteristics. Many neither look to the right nor left. It's full speed ahead. Where are they going? Their concerns are worldly rather than ethereal. They exist as if they will have an armoured truck following their hearse. The possession of wealth is not, of itself, sinful. It is the love of money. The bible says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. God isn't partial against those with money. Abraham was loaded. And the Holy Scriptures are filled with men of means. Reference David, Solomon, and Job. In today's submission, Solomon gives wise counsel about ECONOMIC WELL-BEING. The first, WEALTH AND POVERTY has many familiar sayings. Prov. 3:9, 10 is especially noteworthy: Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. In 11:14, Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. And 14:20, The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. Examine 15:16, Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Look at 22:2, Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. And the familiar 22:7, The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. BENEVOLENCE AND GENEROSITY is next considered. The oft quoted Prov. 19:17 says, He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward  him for what he has done. In OPPRESSION OF THE POOR there are such sayings as the one at 16:8, Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. Solomon expressed many thoughts on INDUSTRIOUSNESS. A famous one is found at Prov. 6:6-8: Go to the ant you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. And then at 6:9-11, How long will you lie  there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest_and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. There are many others scattered throughout Proverbs. Only one admonition is cited under the heading, CONSERVATION, found at Prov. 21:20, In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. And under the title, SURETY FOR ANOTHER Solomon gives this advice at Prov. 17:18: A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

Submitted Thursday, January 28, 2010

O, the games people play. Every night and every day. Till they are covered up with flowers, in the back of a black limousine. So say the lyrics of an old song. Mind games begin at birth and extend through the golden years. Parents know about them and so do caregivers.  Included under the heading, PERSONS AND ATTRIBUTES, Solomon begins his poems with a revelation about the relationships between parents and children. I have experience with both, and so have most of you. And I have witnessed many bouts between offspring and parent. And, it doesn't improve when the  parent is cared for by the children. Ofttimes, the child contributing the least to their care is the object of the aged one's affection. Albeit this may occur, the bible admonishes us to honor them. But, parents must also remember that they are not to be exasperating their children. The games go on. Between husband and wives, rulers and subjects, friends, as well as ministers and congregations. And let us not forget the pretense prevailing between creator and creation. Beginning with Prov. 10:1 we find, A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother. At 20:20, If a man curses his father or mother,  his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness. And at 28:24, He who robs his father or mother and says, "it's not wrong"_ he is partner to him who destroys. WOMEN AND WIVES  is the next heading. At Prov. 11:22, like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. Examine 18:22, he who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. And at  21:9 the familiar, Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. KINGS AND RULERS are addressed next. Prov. 14:28 says, A large population is a king's glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined. And at 16:12-15: Kings detest wrongdoing,for a throne is established through righteousness. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth. Among the many proverbs under this heading, Prov. 25:2,7 expresses the origin of what is uttered in the Greek Scriptures: Do not exalt yourself in the king's presence, and do not claim a place among great men; it is better for him to say to you, "Come up here," than for him to humiliate you before  a nobleman. The virtues of messengers are extolled in Prov. 13:17 and 25:13. Next, Solomon considers COMPANIONS. Prov. 13:20 says, He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. See 18:24: A man of many companons may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. There are other VARIOUS CONCERNS scattered throughout Proverbs. CAUTION at Prov. 16:17; REPUTATION at Prov. 22:1; COURAGE found at Prov. 3:25,26 and HOPE can be sampled at Prov. 13:12. This prayer I pray in the  name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Friday, January 29, 2010

 

Masquerade balls aren't as  popular as they once were. But, Halloween has taken its place. The Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, Second Edition uses these words to define "masquerade:" false show or pretense; disguise, deception, pose, dissimulation, bluff, fakery; pretend to be, pass oneself off as, impersonate or simulate. The word "masque" is a derrivative of masquerade. Referencing the same source, masque denotes dramatic and musical entertainment, especially of the 16th and 17th centuries. In fact, the sign of the thespian art are two masks, showing opposing emotions. As a former student of drama, I know that masks had a utilitarian usage on the stage. During early theatre the audience was not privy to much of the conversations. There was no sound system, remember. So, masques would inform the audience as to when a performer switched emotions. During my dark days of depression, I wore a mask. I am often complimented on my beautiful smile. And it's natural. These days it reflects a happy heart, but during bygone days it concealed a heavy one. Many of you, my friends, know exactly about which I speak. Solomon was aware of the characteristics of joy and grief. Submitted under the heading, VARIOUS OBSERVATIONS, the first wise sayings will be provided in their entirety. Beginning with Prov. 14:10: Each heart knows its own business, and no one else can share its joy. Later, at 14:13, Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief. And at 15:13, A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. At 17:22 is found, A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Further, 18:14 relates, A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? At 25:20, Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. And at 27:11, Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt. And finally, at 29:6, An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad. Solomon writes about GOOD NEWS at Prov. 15:30 and about CURIOSITY at Prov. 27:20. Captioned as SAYINGS OF AGUR, there are many entries. We will sample one at Prov. 30:20 "This is the way of an adulteress: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, "I've done nothing wrong."  A  familiar saying is included in SAYINGS OF KING LEMUEL. Found at Prov. 31:8,9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." The final Proverb for this segment, as well as for the book of Proverbs, is that regarding THE WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER. It is often quoted and I invite you to examine it at Prov. 31:10-3l. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, January 30, 2010

 

To know not and to know not that you know not, is a fool. Shun him. But to know and to know that  you know is a wise man, follow him. I am stepping out on a limb with this submission of the SONG OF SOLOMON OR SONG OF SONGS. Though not completely lacking in knowledge about the book, I needed to consult other sources to increase my enlightenment. Today I will prepare you for the songs. First, you must understand, as has been previously mentioned, that a little literary awareness will assist you in understanding God's Word. The simile, wherein the words "like" or "as" are used to suggest obvious comparison; metaphor where the likeness is implied and understood by the discerning reader and now, the allegory when characters are represented symbolically. The definition of allegory was taken from THE OXFORD DESK DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS, with explanation of simile and metaphor being a forethought derived from my experience teaching high school literature. The first impulse, when reading SONG OF SONGS, is to interpret it literally. This is the angle employed in LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE. Extracted from the footnotes on the subject, we find that its explanation of the songs of love presented in this book reflect Solomon's encounter with a beautiful peasant woman. He approached her anonymously but then later revealed himself to her. He asked her to return to Jerusalem with him and the songs express his feelings for her as they are being married in the palace. It further explains that the book is a series of seven poems, not necessarily in chronological order. According to this source, there are three characters or groups of characters in this book: the girl (beloved), Solomon (lover) and "friends." HALLEY'S BIBLE HANDBOOK agrees that it is a love song, set in blossoming springtime. It states that it is "...full of metaphors and a profusion of oriental imagery that shows Solomon's fondness for nature, gardens, meadows, vineyards, orchards and flocks." It is a superb example of Hebrew poetry. The book admits that it is is difficult to follow because of its sudden transitions from one speaker to another and from place to place. This source divides the speakers into the bride, called the Shulammite; the king, and a chorus of palace women called "daughters of Jerusalem." It further reveals that a common opinion is that the Shulammite was Abishag of Shunem, the most beautiful woman in all the land, who attended David in his last days and who became wife to Solomon. Dr. J. Vernon McGee's explaination in an audio/video from the BLUE LETTER BIBLE WEBSITE agrees with the interpretation given in HALLEY'S BIBLE HANDBOOK. Superficially, the poem is a song of praise to the joys of marital bliss. "However, both Jews and Christians have seen deeper meanings. Jews read it at Passover as an allegory referring to the Exodus, when God took Israel to Himself as His bride...Christians have usually regarded it as a song of Christ and the church. In the New Testament the church is called the bride of Christ...In this view, human marriage is a counter part to and foretaste of the relationship between Christ and His church." Whichever view you prefer, it sends a message that love within the boundaries of marriage is beautiful. As J. Vernon McGee stated, asceticism or abstaining from marriage, is not a requirement. And its opposite, lust, is equally abhorrent. The message to my friends is that sexual relationship should be within the boundaries of marriage and anything less leads to unhapiness. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Sunday , January 31, 2010

 

Many of my friends experience racing thoughts. This usually occurs during the nocturnal hours. I term it STINKIN THINKIN. They just can't turn off the faucet to their thoughts. Clinically depressed persons do it, but so do my friends who are stressed. They rehearse what they will do the next day or lament over what has transpired in recent times. It's not fun. Albeit I no longer manifest active symptoms of depression, I continue to have racing thoughts. But, mine are spiritual. In other words, I am engaged in active communication with God. Or God is giving me directions. Most of the time it involves this website, but it could prevail thoughout every aspect of my existence. Whenever this happens, I will ask God for peace. I will say, 'God, if it is Your will, please let me sleep. If not, then God speak; your servant is listening.' Try it. During one of those late night inspirational incidences, I contemplated the Songs of Solomon or the Song of Songs. It is a little book, but carries a powerful message. Before continuing, I would like to acknowledge the assistance I received from Pastor Mike, Executive Pastor at church. He recommended that I use THE BLUE LETTER BIBLE WEBSITE as a research tool. So, before I explain my plan for presenting this book, let me share with you the fact that I have used this site and especially the commentaries of Dr. J. Vernon McGee as I mentioned in an earlier segment. An adage that says, he who has no plan, plans to fail is especially true with this powerful book. I will use a different approach with Song of Solomon. I will build the rungs and let you climb the ladder by reading the songs later. My decision to do so resulted from the nature of Solomon's songs. The material is graphic and sensual. I do not think a verse by verse approach would do justice to the holistic message. The message could very well be taken literally, as I have mentioned. But the allegorical nature seems most appropirate to me. Dr. McGee echoes  other sources when he stated that Solomon wrote about 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. Mysteriously, only five survived antiquity. He thought it odd that the number for the songs was not rounded and the five reflects the ones studied here. God preserves what He wishes. First, this is not a soap opera. That is what Dr. McGee said about this subject. His commentary informed the researcher that Solomon's name means peace. And Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jerusalem is the city of peace. Now, let's dig a little deeper. Dr. McGee gave a synopsis of the literal meaning of the five songs. It is about a country girl from the hilly terrain of Ephraim. She was a member of a large family and was treated as Cinderella. She worked in the sun and her skin was darkened. During those days, tanned skin was not desirable as it implicated one who toiled. Milky white was the color of choice. This young girl worked in the vineyard and as a shepherdess. Now, don't forget that the song is not meant to be the plot of a story. Remember that it is an allegory. Let us continue with the obvious meaning. The maiden was beautiful but had no time to pamper herself. She encountered a shepherd boy who charmed her. There are some sultry sayings that could serve as fodder for the perverse. For a while, she did not  know the identity of the shepherd boy/lover. Ultimately, she discovered it to be Solomon. Some stop at this bride/bridegroom explanation. But, what Dr. McGee so aptly points out is the fact that, to some extent, it does address a bride/bridegroom relationship. But not the type you expect. This bride is the church and the groom is the Messiah. Summarily, it is an expose that expresses a personal relationship with Jesus. Symbolic references to Jesus prevail thoughout the script. Beginning with the sheep, it becomes obvious that Jesus was the Good Shepherd. Gifts were exchanged as they were at his birth. Spices were mentioned. Dr. McGee stated that "salvation is a love affair." When you read it; it  can be done in one sitting, look for symbolism that points to the Messiah and his covenantal relationship with the church.  Today's affirmation: I must understand that love does not have to be carnal. I realize that love can be expressed in many ways. I am aware of the purest form of love: my love for Christ, who is God in the flesh. I will not let my sexual appetite ruin my chances for eternal life. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, February 1, 2010

 

Everyone has a story. My autobiography is weaved within the context of my commentaries on this webside. Therefore, much about me has been revealed to you. Some of it isn't very pretty. Many hide their wrong doings. Mostly, because of pride or their standing within the community. What would people think of them if they knew the real deal? Well, God already knows you inside out. Now, what you may not realize is my view on status. I have no desire for eminence. If you tell me, 'these people are important,' I shy away from that group. I choose humble over haughty. The life of Solomon is a glowing example of what can happen to those who climb the ladder of success and forget who positioned them there. Solomon. A man who sought discernment and wisdom. This same Solomon succumbed to the wiles of foreign wives and worshipped foreign Gods. Be cognizant that traditional bibles are not arranged as the one I have chosen. That is, THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. SO, DON'T BE CONFUSED BY ITS DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENT OF BOOKS OF THE BIBLE. THEY ARE IN HISTORICAL ORDER. In other words, they are introduced when they occurred in history. Consequently, snippets of 1Kgs. have been introduced following SONGS OF SOLOMON OR SONG OF SONGS. Because that is when they occurred historically. 1kgs. 11:1-3 reveal a sad fact. King Solomon, the wisest man known to man married foreign wives. We know that he married Pharoah's daughter at the beginning of his reign. But the scripture cited says he married other women of foreign extraction. Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hitites. He ignored God's warning that "you must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." And, that is exactly what happened. Tears almost well in my eyes as I write this: Solomon turned to idolatry. He did not follow the pathway of his father, David. He stooped so low that he errected "a high place" for them. Now, as amazing as this sounds, we must apply it to today. How many have fallen from grace  in modern times? The commentary for this section, written by F. LaGard Smith says: an inspired writer of a later time issued the warning, "if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" As a similar warning, I keep an index card affixed to my bathroom vanity that quotes Luke 6:41: Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? God becomes enraged over Solomon's wayward ways. He said to him, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will  most certainly tear the kingdom away  from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen." Following that warning, many adversaries sprung up against Solomon. One was Hadad. He was an Edomite. When Joab mistakenly thought he had exterminated them in battle during David's reign, Hadad escaped to Egypt and married the queen's sister. It seems that Egypt was the place to go when you needed help. Even Jacob knew that. There were Rezon and Jeroboam. Much of this account is recorded at 1Kgs. 11. Examine the details through further study. The bottom line is that Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon's death. Lord, let my friends  know that sometimes depression results from situations such as Solomon experienced. Perhaps not as dramatic, but with similar results. It may be as simple as a demotion. Downsizing. People don't like it when they lose power. Let them know, Lord, that all power rests with you. And so, the glory must be yours. Whether they are high on the corporate ladder or down at the first rung. Let my friends know that it is not WHO they are but WHOM they trust as their God that matters. Today's affirmation: I will strive to live a simple life. I know that hard work reaps benefits. But I must realize that sometimes it is like striving after the wind. I will delight myself in simple pleasures. I do not have to be given a title in order to feel important. God needs me to fight in his army and I will accept His challenge. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, February 2, 2010

 

I launched my career as a pedantic pedagogue in the early seventies as I barely reached twenty-one. I was given the assignment as an instructor of exceptional students in a metropolitan city in the southeastern section of the United States. It was challenging. I had students ranging in ages from approximately seven to sixteen_all in one self-contained class. I had a little help initially from a master teacher. Diane showed me the ropes and spent much of her time knitting for the remainder of the year. It was challenging, but then so was my adjustment as a city gal. I am from a small country town. Admittedly, I was happy when a position as a speech language pathologist, the field in which I was trained, became available. I seem to have taught in four year intervals back then, as that is the length of time I spent in that assigment as well as a similar one when I moved  with my first husband to California, where my daughter was born. Following my divorce, I headed south to lick my wounds and bask in the supportive enviornment provided by my parents. In this setting, I launched my career teaching English to high school students. Equally challenging. Albeit I taught everything from journalism, debate and grammar to world literature, I most enjoyed the poetry and drama. David and Solomon were prolific poets. Whether you term them psalms or songs, they are poetic in nature.  While the psalms and songs of Solomon were mostly upbeat, not so of those in Ecclesiates. The word means teacher or preacher. I can relate as there to is a thin line between the two, considering myself to be both. The words are either directly written by an aged Solomon or a scribe reflecting his latter lessons on life. They are arranged topically in the bible of my choice. SEARCH FOR MEANING is considered first. THE ULTIMATE QUESTION is explored. You will get a feeling of hopelessness and depression from your superficial consideration of Ecclesiastes. The author seems to be searching for the purpose of life. This issue is the theme of the popular, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE BY RICK WARREN. From Eccl. 1:2,3: Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils, under the sun? And in Eccl. 1:4-11, CYCLICAL NATURE OF LIFE, I will provide the following excerpts:  What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is somethng new?" It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. Let's look at the topic, MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING. Found in Eccl. 6:10-12, The more the words the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone? Mortality is examined beneath the heading, IMPORTANCE OF FINDING MEANING. First, MORTALITY OF ANIMALS AND MAN. I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal..." This excerpt is found at Ecc. 3:18-22. Then, consider MORTALITY OF FOOLISH AND WISE, found at Ecc. 2:12-16. An excerpt says, I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes  them both. Then I thought in my heart, "The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?" I said in my heart, "This too is meaningless." For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die! Read about the MORTALITY OF RIGHTEOUS AND WICKED later at Ecc. 9:1-3. Eccl. 9:4-10 considers  THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PRESENT. Anyone who is among the living has hope_even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even memory of them is forgotten. Today's affirmation: I will stay positive and know that my purpose is life is to do God's will. I will not apply Solomon's words as a validation for my atheistic beliefs. I must realize that all is not meaningless. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, February 3, 2010

 

Like Solomon, a portion of my youth was spent engaged in meaningless endeavors. I chased after the wind. But that was when I was a sapling. Solomon took the other road to realization. He began it with wisdom and ended up filled with emptiness. Before I present the wisdom literature for this section, let me mention a few things about the genre. First, consider the word wisdom. Extracted from HALLEY'S BIBLE HANDBOOK, wisdom encompasses the willingness and ability to rightly perceive, and to be rightly related to, the created world in all its aspects. God has made the world a certain way, and wisdom means living in accordance with that basic structure of the universe. Wisdom literature is poetic in form but practical in content. The books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, the Song of Songs and some of the Psalms are traditionally considered wisdom literature. It is impractical to read the Holy Scriptures and not be aware of its creative use of the language. Do you see the word "creator" embedded in the word "creative?" There are other figures of speech to be discovered. Alliteration is sprinkled throughout the bible as well as my personal style. For example, the previous segment featured the phrase "pedantic pedagogue." They have the same beginning sound. It gives melody to the inscription. By the way, it means "strict teacher." In this section MEANINGLESSNESS OF HUMAN PURSUITS is explored. In Eccl. 1:12-18 is found the verses, What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. Further, For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. EMPTINESS OF PLEASURE is examined at Eccl. 2:1-8 and EMPTINESS OF ACHIEVEMENT at Ecc. 2:4-11: I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all thy hands had done and  what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained  under the sun. Solomon continues his first person narration at Eccl. 2:17-26_EMPTINESS OF LABOR. Please analyze Eccl. 4:1-3 wherein Solomon writes about EMPTINESS OF HUMAN CONDITION and 4:4-6, EMPTINESS OF ACCUMULATION. Excerpted from Eccl. 7-12, EMPTINESS OF UNSHARED LIVES, the following is found: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But  pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Pay special attention to his conclusion about EMPTINESS OF FALSE WORSHIP at Eccl. 5:1-7. EMPTINESS OF WEALTH is the subject of 5:8-20, Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too  is meaningless. It further states, Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him_for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot  and be  happy in his work_this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Please read what Solomon has to say about EMPTINESS OF MATERIALISM at 6:1-9. Then, at 7:13.14 he says, Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future. Please continue to read 8:7-15 and 9:13-18. Today's affirmation: I understand that this book is written by a wise man who erred. Just as I may have. I can see that he considers most of his life as striving after the wind. He evidences signs of depression. But, there is hope as I realize that he points to God as the answer to all of the meaninglessness in his life. So should I. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, February 4, 2010

 

This is a test. This is only a  test. This is a test of the American Broadcasting System. Sounds familiar? It continues, in the event of an emergency..... Solomon was tested and found life meaningless. That is, before coming to the conclusion that serving and pleasing God gives purpose to life. I was tested and came to the same conclusion. Both of us discovered that sharing the good news starts with a burden. (2Kngs. 6-7) At least that is the essence of the sermon Pastor Mike preached at my church Sunday. Though this is before the coming of the Messiah, the lesson is no less vivid. And, Pastor Mike extolled, joy comes from sharing that good news. In today's submission, Solomon writes about the VALUE OF WISDOM. Under the heading, VARIOUS PROVERBS, he writes in Eccl. 7:7-12, The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in  your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions. There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you_for  you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. The latter scripture comes from Ecc. 7:19-26. The proverbs continue at Ecc. 10:1-11:6. Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. No one knows what is coming_who can tell him what will happen after him? And, finally, As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God the Maker of all things. Featured in SAYINGS OF THE WISE, Solomon says, Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. And in WISDOM COMES FROM SORROW: Ecc. 7:1-6 states, A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Winding down for this segment, we find DANGER OF EXTREMISM in Ecc. 7:15-18 with the final line admonishing, The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. Please read Eccl. 7:27-29 which reveals the fact that FEW CHOOSE WISDOM. Today's affirmation: I want to earn a good name. But I also do not wish to compromise my principles in order to do so. I will learn from the mistakes others have made as I cannot live long enough to experience them all during my lifetime. I understand that sometimes I must begin with something that is burdensome in order to grow and develop. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, February 5, 2010

 

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. This morning my phone rang at 6:30. It was my best friend, Bea. She knows that I am  an early riser and did not fear disturbing my rest. I try to post the prayers in a timely fashion so that my friends can read them before they begin their day. Today was different. My friend told me that her granddaughter, Carmen, had transitioned. She had been gravely ill; she was only seven months old. We chatted for awhile as we always do, confessing our faith. Our common values bind us together. She wasn't crying, though I could sense a sign of sadness. We discussed how we had to submit to God's will. So, today's final segment from Ecclesiastes and the wisdom of Solomon is dedicated to little Carmen who is with God. The sayings could be called aphorisms or maxims, short verses designed to provoke thought. Beginning with Eccl. 3:1-17 LIFE'S TRUE MEANING is explored starting with the theme: PURPOSE AND BALANCE IN LIFE. It is familiar to most. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Solomon continues: What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil_this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. Next, I will feature a famous excerpt from Ecc. 11:7-12:8, ADVICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE: Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I have no pleasure in them"_ before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of the grinding fades; when men rise  up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshoper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the street. There is a lot of symobolic meaning in this scripture. The grinders, for example, are teeth. That is why you should bother to learn figurative language. Not that, we consider the bible to be simply literature, as is taught at schools of higher learning; it is inspired. Yet, it is indeed filled with symbolic images. 

Today's affirmation: Father, I surrender all. I surrender my possessions, and my thoughts to you. I surrender them to He who has given them to me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, February 6, 2010

 

My husband has a "love affair" with the game of football. I, on the other hand, go in the opposite direction whenever they are playing on the tele. I once enjoyed attending "live" performances. When I was in high school, I was a majorette. I couldn't wait to twirl that baton and dance to a beat that comprised our routine. My mother would get my hair done. And I would polish my boots, equipped with a blue and gold tassel. My boyfriend was a drummer in the band and that made it ever more exciting. Another was co-captain of the team. When I matriculated at a college in the southeast, I continued to attend. Though not a part of the half-time hoopla, I anticipated its excitement . I would get all dolled up and watch the fashion parade. At that time, my beau was a star player and I would be on the edge of my seat when he was sacked. Now, I really don't know much about the game, to this day. Let me tell you what I know: It is a team sport encompassing the theory that, "united we stand; divided we fall." Each team has a coach. Sort of like our heavenly Father. They run in the same direction. And that was a challenge when I played powder puff football during my last two years of high school. If you run in the opposite direction it is considered an embarrassment. Each team has a plan. Akin to the admonishments in the Holy Scriptures. The team is expected to follow the directions of the coach. Our coach leads us to eternity; in the game of football they get a trophy and a moment in the spotlight. The veteran players are chosen to play before the rookies. In the game of life, we are all on equal footing as long as we follow God's rules. Sometimes the rookies will outshine those who have toiled in the vineyard for a longer period of time. Sometimes the star players fall from grace. Sounds like the game of life doesn't it? Well, as we turn the corner of biblical history we enter into the era of the divided kingdoms. Solomon dies in utter obscurity and his son Rehoboam reigns. We find at 1Kngs. 12:1-5 and 2Chron. 10:1-5 that as Rehoboam was crowned to reign, there was another with a similar sounding name who emerged from exile in Egypt and returned to challenge Rehoboam. The people went to Rehoboam and said to him, "Your father put a heavy yoke  on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on  us, and we will serve you." He answered them, "Go away for three days and then come back to me." So the people went away. This reminds me of the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Their request sounded reasonable to the elders whom Rehoboam consulted. The elders replied, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants." A hot-headed Rehoboam didn't like that answer. So he consulted his cronies  who advised him to do the opposite. So a rebellion ensued. All but Judah rebelled. So, now there is a divided kingdom with two kings. Jeroboam was king of what was known as Israel and Rehoboam reigned over Judah. And, of course, they wanted to rumble. A prophet prevented this from happening. His  name was Shemiah. God spoke to him: "Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to the whole house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people", "This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing." So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered. (1Kngs. 12:6-11 and 2Chron. 10:6-11). Meanwhile ,Jeroboam resorted to idolatry and built shrines on high places. The Levites returned to Judah so that they could worship God. At 1Kgs 13:1-3 it tells of a prophecy that came from a man of God who lived in Judah, the center of true worship. It was a prophecy against the altar that was errected. The bottom line is that it came to fruition and as King Jeroboam tried to seize the man of God, his hand shriveled. He cried out for help and the prophet from Judah helped him. But he refused his hospitality. 1Kngs. 13:11-32 tells of the fate of the man of God. Please read it later. Today's affirmation: I realize that my life is somewhat like the game played on a field. I can either listen to my "coach" or I can live an existence in eternal damnation. I can follow God's word if I wish. I have choices. I am like everyone else. I can choose life. I want to choose life. I can ask God for peace. I know that He will grant it to me if I have the faith of a mustard seed. I know that the activities in which I engage are meaningless and striving after the wind. I will engage in things that are upbuilding and when I do that I will strengthen my relationship with God. I will clear my head and get better. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Submitted Sunday, February 7, 2010

 

There are common threads that knit the bible together. Foremost among them is the one heralding the coming of the Messiah. The first prophecy can be found in Genesis and it alludes to Christ's coming. Another commonality is the fact that when you turn away from God  towards idolatry, things don't go well. So, you think the worship of idol gods is a biblical thing? I think not. When you fail to tithe ten per cent of the abundance God gave you, you obviously are worshipping something else. Like what? Yourself. Your family. Your house and possessions. Your career. Your car. Get the point? Well, it was blatant idolatry that brought Jeroboam and Rehoboam to their knees. And beyond. After the peaceful Proverbs and provocative books of Solomon, we return to the warfare ensuing between the divided kingdoms of Israel. Jeroboam had evil ways. And he paid a dear price for his diabolicial practices. In 1Kgs. 14:1-4 the son of Jeroboam became ill. He sent his wife dressed in disguise to inquire of Ahijah the prophet. Even though his visual acuity suffered, the prophet knew who she was as God had forewarned him. Lord, let  my friends know that they can run but they cannot hide from the Lord. Ahijah told Jeroboam's wife what she would rather not hear. After reminding her of the sins of her husband, he gave her the verdict from the Lord. "Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel_slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country. The Lord has spoken!" Then the Lord said he would raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off his family. Just as the prophet had predicted, when Jeroboam's wife's feet crossed the threshold, her son died. But the Lord allowed him to be buried as he found good in him. Friends, you can see that God is slow to anger but He can be angered. Don't be lulled into thinking differently. Personally, I suffered twenty years with depression and I think it was directly related to my errant ways. I am aware of the medical facets and respect them, but I am speaking for me when I say, "God needed to get my attention" And He did. It saved my spiritual life and probably my mortal life as well. Now, back in Judah let us see what Rehoboam was doing. 2Chron. 11:5-12  describes his family life. He married many wives and had concubines as well. He loved Maacah, daughter of Absalom, more than the others. Consequently, he appointed Abijah son of Maacah to be chief prince among his brothers, in order to make him king. 1Kgs. 14:22-24 and 2Chron. 12:1-14 say that Rehoboam abandoned true worship. Drrrrrrum roll please. He was invaded by the king of Egypt, Shishak. In 2Chron. 12:5-8: Then the prophet Shemiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled  in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, "This is what the Lord says, "you have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak." Frightening isn't it, my friends? But lets continue: The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, The Lord is just." Lets see what God does: When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemiah.: "Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands." Judah was not all bad. And neither are you, my friends. And neither was I.  At 1Kgs. 15:1,2 and 2Chron. 13:1,2 the death of Rehoboam is revealed. He died after having reigned eighteen years, with Abijah succeeding him to the throne. At 2Chron. 13:4-12 Abijah delivers a stirring message. It was in response to a threat issued by Jeroboam. In essence, Abijah said that God was with the City of David. Great start but poor finish. At 1Kgs. 15:3-5, He commited all the sins his father had done before him;  his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God as the heart of David his forefather had been. Today's affirmation: As Pastor Mike said in today's service, friends, don't become enamored with the world. I will avoid idolatry of all kind. I cannot keep my mind clean when it is cluttered with worldly thinking and treasures. A clean mind is a healthy mind. I want a healthy mind. I can achieve it, if I believe it. "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger that you seem, and smarter than you think." (Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

Submitted Monday, February 8, 2010

 

Where there is division, there is despair. Whether it is in your house or in the White House. This segment is challenging. It teeter-totters between two kingdoms_one in Judah and the remaining northern tribes of Israel. It encompasses oodles of kings. Most of them were evil. It becomes confusing. I have determined that the only thing worth remembering are the good guys. There are fewer and they walked in the way of the Lord. Let's start this journey in Judah. 1Kgs. 15:8-10 and 2Chron. 14:1 tell us that Asa took the reigns after the death of Abijah. Under his tutelage Judah prospered. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. Meanwhile, in Israel Jeoboam dies. He made bad choices. His son Nadab succeeded him as king and reigned two years.(1Kgs. 14:20; 15:25) Nadab was evil and followed in the footsteps of his father. 1Kgs. 15:31,27 explains how Nadab was assassinated. Please read it later. Then, if that wasn't diabolical enough, Jeroboam's family was killed. All of them. (15: 29.30) Then Baasha, who had orchestrated Nadab's demise, emerged as ruler. He also was evil. Let's find out what is transpiring in Judah. God helped Asa and Judah defeat the Cushites. (2Chron. 14:9-15)  Judah experienced peace for thirty-five years after that conflict. In addition to the people of Judah and Benjamin were large numbers of other tribesmen who had joined ranks with Asa after seeing that the Lord was with them. At 1Kgs. 15:13 and 2Chron. 15:16 we find King Asa deposing his grandmother Maacah because of her persistent habits of idolotry. Then, the inevitable happens. Bassha, king of Israel, threatened Asa. But, then this good guy, Asa, erred. He sought the help of the king of Syria rather than that of the Lord. Later, in 2Chron. 16:10 we find Hanani the seer approaching Asa and berating him for  this action.  Because of his behavior, the Lord told Asa, "...You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war." Asa didn't like what the seer had to say and tossed him into prison. Then the venue changes to Israel. The beat goes on when the word came through Jehu, son of Hanani, to Baasha because of their evil ways. (1Kgs. 16:7, 1-4) He suffered the same fate as his father Jeroboam. Please read the details later. Baasha died. Elah his son succeeded him as king. Elah reigned for only two years. (1Kgs. 16:5,6) He was assassinated. Then there was a tug of war for power between Zimri and Omri. Omri won out. Omri was evil as well. Following Omri, Ahab his son was crowned. His reign spanned twenty-two years. Remember this guy. According to 1Kgs. 21:25,26, There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. We will finish this section with a peek at Judah. What you may discern is that some of the "good guys" jumped ship. Asa was one of them. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. My friends, notice that it said ONLY from the physicians. Seeking  help from the medical profession is not a sin. I am aware that there are some facets of the religious right who condemn medical care. And, consulting a mental health professional falls under this umbrella. Asa died. And 1Kgs. 22:43,46,47 and 2Chron. 20:32.33 record that Jehoshaphat his son ,who ruled after him, walked in the ways of his father. Remember him. He made good choices. And Judah prospered with him at the helm. Today's affirmation: I realize from the Holy Scriptures that things will go well with me when I follow the Word of God. I cannot have it both ways. I must choose whom I will serve. I know that my mental status is directly related to my spiritual. I want peace. I must admit that true and everlasting peace comes from God. I may try to achieve peace through other measures, but it won't last. Care from a mental health professional will help me achieve this goal.This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, February 9, 2010

 

Some people go along to get along. It was true in the bible and it's true now. This habit can create problems. It is advisable that you stand out from the crowd when it is necessary. Some pride themselves in being different. And that can be a good thing. Others are afraid to express an opposing opinion or to dress in a unique fashion. They will do what the crowd does at all cost. But Noah didn't. Neither did Moses. And, now we consider another who followed God's word at the risk of losing his life. Elijah was a prophet who lived during the reign of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Being a prophet of the Lord was hazardous to your health_and life. During those days Israel was dominated by pagan worship. God was not pleased with their behavior. And when God is not pleased He acts upon his displeasure. Elijah, the Tishbite, is often confused with Elisha whom we will discuss later. 1Kgs. 17:1 tells us that this brave prophet said to Ahab, an evil ruler: "As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." Then the Lord sent Elijah to hide in the Kerith Ravine. 1Kgs. 17:2-7 explains  that God provided a brook from which he could drink and ravens to bring him meat and bread. Then the Lord sent him to Zarepath of Sidon where a widow and her son resided. 17:8-16 tells that the widow was down to her last meal and was prepared to cook it and die with her son. Elijah told her that the Lord God of Israel said, "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land." My friends, the same God who provided for the widow can also be there for you. Perhaps not in such a dramatic fashion with words spoken to you by a prophet. But, provisions will be made available to you, none-the-less. The widow obeyed Elijah and food was available to her throughout the drought. Then tragedy befell when her son became ill and died. And, of course, she struck out at Elijah. Isn't that true of us, my friends? We are fine as long as things go well, but when life takes a detour we are ready to blame someone_even God_ for our misfortune. But, things got better for her when Elijah resurrected the boy. Of course, the power to do so came from God. This foretells the miracles Jesus would later perform. At 1Kgs. 18:2-6 we are introduced to Obadiah, a man of God. He worked in Ahab's palace. While Jezebel was killing the prophets this man of God saved over a hundred by hiding them in caves and bringing provisions to them. As far as the royal couple was concerned Elijah was the last of the lot. And they were in hot pursuit of him. When Obediah encountered Elijah and was requested to inform Ahab of his presence, Obediah feared for his life, thinking that he would not appear. But he did. Now, this segment is familiar to most Christians. 18:16-21 relates the challenge Elijah made to the priests of Baal. They were to meet at Mount Carmel. There were four hundred and fifty of them. And only one representing the Lord. At 18:22-25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire. They shouted to Baal, even cutting themselves with swords which was the custom. But, of course, there was no response. Then, at 18:30-39 Elijah said to all the people, "Come here to  me." He asked  them to fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood. They did it three times. The number three is significant later. Elijah called upon the Lord. Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice. The priests paid dearly for their mistake. They were all slaughtered in the Kishon Valley. Following the demonstration of the Lord's power, He sent rain. Sometimes, my friends, God has to demonstrate His power in our lives. And we must recognize when He does so. Of course, Jezebel didn't like what happened and threatened Elijah. You would think, that with the powerful display at Mount Carmel that Elijah would be energized and would fear no man. But, what did he do? 1Kgs. 19:3,4 tells us that he prayed to die. My friends, have you ever prayed to die? To end it all? You can see that sometimes even faith can fail us. But God doesn't give up on us. Elijah was depressed. 19:5-8 tells us that he fell asleep. Sounds familiar? Then an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He later went to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. Later, he was commissioned to find Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. The twelve represents the tribes of Israel. He followed Elijah and became his attendant. Today's affirmation: I must realize that prayer changes things, but I can still suffer even after praying. I realize what happened to Elijah and if it could happen to him it could happen to me. But, I also know that God has a plan for my life. Things won't always go as I wish, but in time things will work out, if I don't tire out. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, February 10, 2010

 

William Cowper said, "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm." When I experienced twenty years of clinical depression, there were many things I didn't understand. I didn't comprehend why I had to endure such sadness. I did't apprehend why the suffering lasted so long. I didn't know why it was so intense. I had no conception of these things. But, one thing I never released_my trust in God and my faith. Faith begins where understanding ends. I didn't realize that God was setting me up_for something wonderful. He washed me in the blood of the lamb and prepared me to help others. As I rode out the storm, God planted his footsteps in the sea. Granted, it was not a total wipeout. I had moments of clarity and competency. My highs and lows were not balanced as there were more lows than highs. The protagonist of today's segment, was a man who disobeyed God and believed in himself and whose goal in life was to obtain pleasure. He was so evil that he has the dubious honor of having been the most evil ruler of Israel. And his wife, Jezebel, was equally diabolical. This section begins with a blessing and ends with malediction. At 1Kgs. 20:1 we find that Ben-Hadad King of Aram beseiged Samaria and attacked it. Samaria was in Israel, of the northern tribes. Please read 20:2-12 to discover the details of his plans. But at 1Kgs. 20: 13,14 we find God coming to the rescue ot wicked Ahab. A prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, "This is what the Lord says: 'Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then  you will know that I am the Lord.'" Friends, that is my comprehension of the end of sorrow I experienced. God wanted me to know that He is God almighty and He is the one who is bringing me relief. Of course, Ahab defeated the Syrians. But the  prophet warned him that the Arameans would return the next spring. To me, it is like God is saying: 'you are having a period of peace in your life now, but there will be more challenges ahead.' My friends, I am ready to face those trials. 1Kgs. 20:23-30 tells us that the officials of Aram assumed that King Ahab's victory came about because their gods are gods of the hills and convinced themselves that they would prevail on the plains. Do you make excuses for things that transpire in your lives, my friends? The scripture continues to reveal that God would have none of their irrationality. So, God delivered Aram into the hands of Ahab again. Why is God helping this evil person? God wants to demonstrate his might and hopes that Ahab would pay attention. 20:30-34 reveals that Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an upper room. He and Ahab made a treaty and his life was spared. Read the account at 1 Kgs. 20:L35-43 and discover the strange events that occurred when God's commandments were not honored. At 21:4-16 Ahab is seen in a more familiar light. He coveted the land of Naboth, the Jezreelite, whose vineyard was adjacent to the palace. Ahab was determined to seize it and Naboth was determined to keep it. It was heir's property. When Naboth refused him, Ahab went home and sulked. Jezebel would have none of it and was determined to secure the property for her husband_as well as for herself. So she schemed to have Naboth killed. Please read the details at 21:14-16. With Naboth out of the way, Ahab was satisfied. But his pleasure was short-lived. At 21:17-24 we find Elijah delivering God's condemnation upon him. Say to him, 'This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property:' Then say to him, 'This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood_yes, yours!' And a similar fate awaited Jezebel. But Ahab humbled himself. And the Lord postponed his death until the co-reign of his son, Ahaziah. Now, a strange twist of events is noted at 1Kgs. 22:7-9, 13-28 and 2Chron. 18:6-8, 12-27. The Lord put a lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets. Read all about it for yourself later. Today's affirmation comes from an excerpt in the book, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE BY RICK WARREN: When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that's called worry. When you think about God's word over and over in your mind, that's meditation. If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate. You just need to switch your attention from your problems to Bible verses. The more you meditate on God's word, the less  you will have to worry about. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Thursday, February 11, 2010

 

Words are important. They are now and they were back then. Especially back then when we had no highspeed highway. Messengers were used. Sometimes they were killed for the news they bore. God sent messengers as well. And their words were often perilous. Sometimes it may have meant your demise. Elijah was one of God's chosen. I have been at the mercy of a messenger in my primary care doctor's office. My doctor is a caring one and he leaves no stone unturned. And I must have frequent tests. In fact, just on GP, I have blood work tri-monthly. Who knows what may have taken root during the interim, he ponders. In this submission there were many messages sent, some with dire results. The death of Ahab, as recorded at 1Kgs. 22:29-36, was foretold along with the treatment of his remains. It is written, that the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehosaphat, "I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes." Well, that didn't go very well and his little scheme was discovered. As a result he was attacked and later died. As was foretold, his blood was licked up by dogs. (22:37-40) After the death of Ahab, his son was the lone ruler. Ahaziah did what was evil, following in the footsteps of his ancestors. You would think that he would have learned his lesson. But, sometimes, my friends we don't mend our ways either. We see what has happened to others and we think that, somehow, we will escape. Not so with them, and not so with us. The king of Judah was reprimanded for his role in assisting Ahab but survived because of his good deeds. At 2Chron. 20:1,2 we find that Judah was threatened by the Moabites. Jehoshaphat entreated help from the Lord. After proclaiming a fast for all of Judah he spoke to them in an eloquent address recorded at 2Chron. 20:3-12. Following an expression of thanks and adoration, excerpts from the speech are as follows: "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do but our eyes are upon you." Why did God preserve the lives of these countries? It is my belief that God knew exactly what He was doing. He wanted to magnify His name. And that is what transpired when Judah avoided calamity. Please read about it at 2Chron. 20:13-19. After the victory Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army saying: "Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever." Before the battle, there is a familiar quote referenced in contemporary songs, when it was said, For the battle is not yours, but God's. And, that is true for you, my friends; give your troubles over to the Lord and He will fight your battles as well. At 2Kgs. 1:2 Ahaziah falls ill after having fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria. Enters Elijah the prophet. Messengers were sent to inquire of Ahaziah's gods. But they met Elijah the Tishbite enroute to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron. The scripture says, "He was a man with a garment of hair and with a leather belt around his waist." Reference John the Baptist. Please examine 2Kgs. 1:9-14 to find out what happened to the messengers Elijah encountered who were commissioned by the king. In the end, Ahaziah died. He had no sons and 2Kgs. 1:17, 3:1  tells us that Joram or Jehoram, son of Ahab, succeeded him as king. Albeit not quite as evil, he continued to displease the Lord. Today's affirmation:  I must not be like the kings of Samaria. I must learn from history. I must learn from experience. I am not exempt from tragedy when I displease the Lord. I know that my problems may take many forms. I have common sense and I know that I can also be helped through the skills of a trained mental health provider. I will listen. I will not deny reality. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, February 12, 2010

 

Do you believe in the rapture? Those who do anticipate it with great enthusiasm, but those who don't think it is a theological theory at its best, and a hoax at its worst. Well, if you consider the bible to be the Word of God, it is unmistakable that what happened to Enoch and Elijah prefigure what will take place at the rapture. At the time of Enoch's death, he was considered to be "no more." Let us see what happened to Elijah, the prophet of the moment. Now, please realize that there were many, many prophets but the ones with which we are familiar are the major ones. Embarking upon a study of second kings, we find Elijah contemplating his demise. At 2Kgs. 2:1-11 he is found traveling from one point to another. First, to Bethel. Then to Jericho and later to the Jordan. As he traveled, Elisha, his protege went with him. And so did other prophets they met along the way. While at Jericho the company of prophets inquired of Elisha: "Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?" Elisha answered in the affirmative.  At the Jordan, they were accompanied by fifty prophets who desired to witness what they knew would transpire. Using his cloak, Elijah rolled it up and struck the water and it divided. Remember the Red Sea and Moses? Realizing that his time has come, he asked Elisha what he could do for him? Elisha unhesitatingly asked for a double portion of his spirit. "You have asked for a difficult thing," Elijah said. "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours_otherwise not." As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 2Kgs. 2:12-13 tells how Elisha received the spirit he desired. The accomanying prophets searched three days for Elisha. Does that remind you of Jesus? Elisha went on to perform many recorded miracles. My friends, do you believe in miracles? Here is your proof. If God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow, He can perform miracles in your lives. At 2Kgs. 2:19-22 it explains how he purified water. Please read it. Then a strange twist of events takes place in his life. On his way to Bethel some children taunted Elisha. Recorded at 23-25, we find them calling him "bald head." Well, apparently this did not set well with Elisha. He cursed them and over forty-two were mauled by two bears. Then, the miracle of the oil is recorded at 4:1-7. A woman was distraught after the death of her husband and the threat of creditors to enslave her two sons. Elisha advised her to find empty jars and fill them with the small portion of  oil she had in her house. She had enough oil to sell in order to pay off her debts and remaining money for her sustenance. As you can determine, many of Elisha's miracles prefigure those of the Messiah. Next, is my favorite account. It involves a well-to-do Shunammite woman who was hospitable to Elisha when he was in the area with his servant Gehazi. She offered him meals and went the extra mile by preparing a little room for him on the roof which she furnished for his pleasure. Elisha was always willing to help others as is demonstrated with the Shunammite woman. He wanted to know how he could help her. Notice, she never asked for anything on her own. Gehazi said, "Well, she has no son and her husband is old." Elisha, working through the power of God, told her, "About this time next year,...you will hold a son in your arms." Now, as you read these accounts keep in mind how they parallel the events of the New Testament.  There were other extraordinary events in the ministry of Elisha. I invite you to continue reading chapter four. Also, reference 8:1-2 and 6:1-7. Today's affirmation:  I realize that miracles happened during biblical times, but I also know that they can happen in my life. Perhaps I have experienced some and was unaware of them. My life is a miracle. I must believe that good things can happen to me as well. I do not have to accept my state of mind as normal. God does not. And neither should I. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends. Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, February 13, 2010

 

Archaelogists are helpful when it comes to validating biblical history. They unearth relics that support the facts found in God's Word. However, they have discovered murals that muddy those very truths about which we read in the scriptures. There are, for instance, situations in which co-regents ruled. Also, there are those with the same name or similarly sounding ones. Superficially, discovering two would dismay and confuse those who lack insight on the scriptures. We find such a situation in today's segment wherein Jehoram co-rules with Jehoshaphat in Judah. Found at 2Kgs. 8:16.17 and 2Chron. 21:5 it tells us, in the fifth year of Joram, son of Ahab king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat began his reign as king of Judah. He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jeurusalem eight years. At 2Chron. 21:2-4 it gives us more indepth knowledge about Jehoram. Albeit the eldest, he had many brothers. The scripture tells us that when Jehoram established himself firmly over his father's kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the princes of Israel. Moab is back on the scene doing what they seem to do best_fight. This time King Joram set out from Samaria and sought assistance from his kinsmen. 2Kgs. 3:6-9 informs us that a call for help went out to the north. Judah replied, "I will go with you. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." Along with the Edomites, the three regions decided to march through the desert. After seven days they had no more water. But Jehoshaphat did as expected_he asked for the help of a prophet of God. 2Kgs. 3:10-10 also tells us that they sought help from Elisha, son of Shaphat. Elisha wasn't exactly thrilled to help the pagan pact, and said, "As surely as the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you but now bring me a harpist." As the harpist created the mood, Elisha spoke. He told them that the Lord wanted them to dig ditches in the desert and the valley would be filled with water. And so it happened just at the Lord said. He also said that He would hand over the Moabites into their hands. From afar the Moabites got up early in the morning when the sun was shining on the water that the Lord had given the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom. They must have experienced a mirage as they imagined the water to be blood. Or could it have been the Lord's work? They assumed, "Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!" (2Kgs. 3:21-27.) And the rest , as is often said, is history. The death of Jehoshaphat is recorded both at 1Kgs. 22:45,50 and also at 2Chron. 20:34; 21:1. Now, Jehoram (Joram) reigned alone. He hadn't learned a thing from the past, as he, too, walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and even married into the family of Ahab. 2Chron. 21:12-15 records a letter from Elijah the prohet. Now, many will ponder, 'I thought he was dead.' This isssue is fodder for the theologian and I will not attempt to expound upon that which I am unable to explain. Some dismiss it as a mystery. Read the details of the letter for yourself and I invite further examination of the scriptures to determine your decision regarding Elijah. Summarily, the letter condemned Jehoram and informed him that he would become very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels until the disease caused his intestines to come out. Read further for details later if you desire. 2Chron. 21:16,17 stated that, not a son was left to him except Ahaziah, the youngest, following a foreign attack. Today's affirmation: Sometimes I may not understand the works of God. But, then sometimes I don't understand myself. What I do know is that I am a friend of God if I respect His commandments. I know that "God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight." (Reggie White) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, February 14, 2010

 

The next book, Obadiah, is placed in the bible somewhat like meat between two slices of bread. It is small but it packs a wallop when it comes to its prophetic message. There are disagreements surrounding this little book. Not about the "what" of it, but more regarding the "when." So, lets examine that which may be confusing. LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE states that the book was written "possibly during the reign of Jehoram in Judah, 855-840 B.C., or possibly during Jeremiah's ministry, 627-586." In the introduction of my bible of choice, THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, the editor, F. LaGard Smith places it between 2Chron. and 2Kgs. He says "some believe that Obadiah belongs to a much later period, possibly 250 years later. Others suggest the present historical context, based on his strongly worded attack against Edom, which has recently revolted and apparently given aid to the Philistine and Arab invaders of Judah." So, it seems that with this book, scholars seem to agree to disagree. Now, let us reveal that which is agreed upon. THE LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE, as well as most other sources, say very little is known about Obadiah, whose name means "servant of the Lord." Dr. McGee, from BLUE LETTER BIBLE WEBSITE says though Obadiah's identity is shrouded in mystery, the purpose of the book is crystal clear. LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE explains the reason to be "to show that God judges those who have harmed his people." To completely understand the condemnation of Edom, one must recall the struggle between two brothers_Jacob and Esau. The conflict began in their mother's womb when God informed Rebecca that she would be the mother of two nations. The boys were different in that Esau was ruddy and more an outdoor-type and Jacob was a "mama's boy." Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. And they parted under contentious circumstances for many years. The two did become fathers to two nations. Jacob, later known as Israel, became patriarch to the tribe of Judah and Esau to the Edomites. On those facts Christians agree. In the beginning, God advised that the Edomites were treated kindly because of their genetic connection with Jacob. And Egyptians were also to be treated with respect because of their assistance following the famine. Things got a little hairy later. The Israelites and the Edomites fought bitterly. Their problems went as far back as when they refused passage of their brothers enroute to Canaan. Smith explains in the finality of his introduction: "Obadiah predicts that Edom will reap what it sows and will itself be brought to ruin. History will confirm the accuracy of the prediction. In addition to its immediate relevance, the prophecy stands as a warning to all enemies of God's people, especially those who ought to be "brothers." I can imagine those on the opposite side of this coin are gritting their teeth as the Edomites intermarried with the Ishmaelites and from that union we have what is now known as the Arab world. Please read the prophecy in the brief book of Obadiah. It is an important one and should be discernable after the background provided here. Today's affirmation: I understand that pride goeth before a fall. It happened to the Edomites and it can happen to me. I must not let my pride be my downfall. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Monday, February 15, 2010

 

The segment addressed in this submission could easily be identified as THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Or as the editor of my bible of choice puts it, MIRACLES AND MASSACRES. In the last entry we discussed what some consider odd and others think mysterious. That is the letter from a deceased Elijah to Jehoram, prophesying his death. I reference the commentary by J. Vernon McGee regarding this odd occurance. He reminded us that the book of Chronicles parallels Kings. We have encountered this earlier when I introduced material found in both books. So, the information in the letter from Elijah could have been written at a different time. Some think that Elijah was thrown atop a mountain and killed by God. That theory is dismissed by most. Others consider the letter to be written by a different Elijah. Possible but not probable. I have noticed that the servant of Elijah is now with Elisha. With those facts factored, you are better able to draw your own conclusions regarding the mysterious letter from Elijah. Now, let us begin where the letter ends. 2Chron. 21:18 informs us that the Lord afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels. This was foretold in the letter. Segue to Israel. I was a little dismayed by the fact that Elisha prophesied there. But, prophets work in fertile territory. We find at 2Kgs. 6:8-12 that the king of Aram was at war with Israel. Now, remember Israel was the northern tribe and did not worship the Lord as did the southern tribe of Judah. At present, Judah's leadership lacks integrity. Jehoram walked in the ways of Israel and even married into the family of Ahab, infamous for his evil ways. The king of Aram found his plans sabbotaged and thought someone within his camp had snitched. After discovering that the culprit was a man of God, he took action. Elisha was found in Dothan and the monarch sent a strong force to capture him. Imagine awakening one morning to discover a vast army camped outside of your door. But Elisha wasn't dismayed. In 2Kgs. 6:13-18 Elisha says to his servant, "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." After prayer, the servant was able to discern the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. My friends, imagine the same thing happening to you. Though invisible, you can envision God camped around you; there to help you through your trials and tribulations and to fight evil forces that may wish to attack you. Elijah prayed the enemies would be struck with blindness. And it was so. After leading them to Samaria, Elisha advised the Samarians  not to kill them. The Lord had made his point and the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel's territory. Read 2 Kgs. 8:3-6 to discover that which happened to the woman whose son Elisha had restored from death upon her return from the land of the Philistines. At 2Kgs. 5:1-14 is a well known account of how Naaman was healed of leprosy. Naaman was a valiant soldier. But, with the help of a captive servant girl, he regained his health. She advised him to see the man of God in her country. Naaman's master gave his blessings for him to leave and seek this prophet. When this great warrior sought the help of Elisha, he became a victim of pride after Elisha's failure to meet with him personally. He sent him a message instead. He simply sent word that he was to bathe in the Jordan seven times. After some resistance,  he followed orders and was healed. My friends, are you resisting advice because you doubt it will help. Remember Naaman. Naaman expressed faith in the God of Israel. Then Gehazi finds himself on the other end of Elisha's wrath. Please discover the sin he committed at 2Kgs. 5:19-27. It seems that famine was prevalent in the land during that time. And so it is now. Ben-Hadad king of Aram (Syria) laid seige to Samaria. (2Kgs. 6:24). We find that the people resorted to eating their children. But Elisha wasn't bothered much by it as he had received a message from God. The king had sent a message to the elders and Elisha forewarned them that the king wanted his head. Elisha said, "Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekal and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria. Now, prior to this a donkey's head sold for eighty shekels. In the meantime, four lepers at the entrance of the city gate decided to risk their lives_or save them. 'We'll go into the city_the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let's go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die." At dusk they executed their plan. But, to their surprise they found the Arameans had abandoned the camp. The Lord had put into their hearts to leave with a plan of His own. He caused them to hear the sounds of chariots and horses. (2Kgs. 7:3-8) So, the lepers had a field day eating and plundering until they had satisfied themselves. Then their consciences bothered them. They shouted the news that the enemy had departed. Prophecy was fulfilled when the king was trampled at the gate as the people rushed to find food. Today's affirmation: I must take a chance as did the lepers. I will consider turning to God, first, and then the mental health community to find help. I must learn from the lepers. I will find that help is just beyond the gate. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, February 16, 2010

 

For those who enjoy action flicks, this segment will be interesting. For those, like myself, who abhor them, the submission will retain its value as it is a lesson from God as to what can happen to those who insist upon idolatry. Yes, God is kind, merciful and compassionate; yet, He can take action against those proving to be against Him. In order to understand this part of the bible, you must really engage in active thought. First, you must decipher between the good guys and the bad ones. Then, you have to get past the "J's." In some cases, the kings have two names. Now, that isn't unusual, even in contemporary society, as many have shortened forms of their given names_nicknames. But, sometimes the alternate identification is longer than the name assigned at birth. There will be much blood spilled in this section. But it is righteous indignation on the part of a loving God who will not tolerate competition. So, if you are engaged in worship contrary to the will of God, you need to pay special attention. Let's get started. Ahaziah succeeds Jehoram as king. He was the youngest son and proved to be a remnant of the others who were killed. Also known as Jehoahaz, 2Kgs. 8:24-26; 9:29 and 2Chron. 22:1,2 tell that in the twelfth year of Joram, son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two when be became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother's name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri. 2Kgs. 8:27 and 2Chron. 22:3,4 say that he too walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him in wrong doing. Now, in Israel we find Elisha doing what he does best_prohesying. 2Kgs. 8:7-13 tells us that he went to Damascus to see Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, who was ill. The king was happy to see him. His attendant, Hazael, announced to the king that Elisha was on his way. And the king sent gifts to him. After inquiring about his illness, Elisha gave him good news and bad news. He would survive the illness but he would later die. And Hazael was told that he would become king of Aram in his place. Elisha wept after propheysying. He knew what would happen later. As I write this, I consider the ministers appointed by God (and not all of them are such) and the burdens they bare. 8:14,15 tells how Hazael spread a thick, soaked cloth over the king's face and smothered him. At 2Kgs. 8:28 and 2Chron. 22:5 we find that, Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram. Then the prophet Elisha makes another move. At 2Kgs, 9:1-13 we find him summoning a man from the company of the prophets and sending him on a mission. The short of it is, he was to find Jehu and say: 'I anoint you king over the Lord's people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord's servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel_slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.' The newly anointed Jehu set out to accomplish the goal the Lord set before him. When seen by Joram and Ahaziah they each inquired of the the nature of Jehu's mission. In other words, 'Do you come in peace?' Peace was far from the heart of Jehu when he shot Joram between the shoulders. Jehu said to Badkar, his chariot officer, "Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite..." Ahaziah was also wounded as is brought out in 2Kgs. 9:27 and 2Chron. 22:7. But he escaped to Megiddo. 9:30 tells of the destruction of Jezebel. When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. She, too, asked Jehu if his mission was a peaceful one. She got her answer when Jehu mustered those on his side together and they tossed her over the wall. The horses trampled her underfoot. To add insult to injury, Jehu went in and ate and drank."Take care of that cursed woman," he said, "and bury her, for she was king's daughter." But there was little left to bury. Later the job started by Jehu was finished when the princes of the house of Ahab were massacred. Please read it for yourself later to discover how it was accomplished at 2Kgs. 10:1-11. Then attention was directed towards Ahaziah. He was found hiding in Samaria as is revealed at 2Kgs.9:28 and 2Chron. 22:9. Jehu put him to death as well and there was no one in the house of Ahaziah powerful enough to retain the kingdom. When he met Jehonadab enroute to meet him, he fondly greeted him and they rode off into the sunset. That was the end of Ahab's family. Today's affirmation: I can see that I must face the consequences of my behavior. I can escape it for a while, but eventually I will come full circle. I realize that from every action there is a reaction. I must take care to do things that will bring joy and peace to my life. I realize that a happy heart makes for a happy head. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

Submitted Wednesday, February 17, 2010

 

By the time I have studied the bible before posting my prayers, I am ready to introduce the segment. I don't just jump on the computer and start typing. I must know about which I write. I must study and research when appropriate. Most of the time I am drawing upon past knowledge. I am always writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit. As I prepared for this section, I wondered how I would introduce it. Then, I began to muse: what is it about the monarchy that makes people behave in such manners? And why is it that they seem not to "get it" regarding idolatry. You would think that one king would learn from another. Why? Is it in their DNA? Well, duh! It indeed is; it came from our foreparents_Adam and Eve. And it is the reason God sent the Messiah to redeem us from the mess they created. All of that which is presented in the Old Testament leads up to the climax of the New Testament. How can you divide the two? Then, I thought about contemporary times. And I asked myself, 'what is it about people that makes them do the things they do?' I reflected upon the worship of their houses and families and jobs and cars and everything, except the one who provided these things. And, most importantly, why is it they can't give ten percent of those earnings back to the Lord? It makes no sense. It seems as absurd in this century as it did during the era of Joash in Judah. 2Kgs, 11:1 and 2Chron. 22:10 speak of Athaliah, Jehoram's widow and Jezebel's daughter. True to her nature she decided to take matters into her own hands after her son died. Scripture tells us that she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah. My friends, some of you may think that these accounts have little to do with you but that is errant thinking. It may take some reflection, but it always affects your life, as it presently exists. In some manner. You must learn to pray for discernment and to ask God to reveal to you how it affects you. Athaliah thought she had covered her bases, but 2Kgs. 11:2,3 and 2Chron. 22:11,12 tell us that Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes. He remained in a bedroom throughout the six years of her reign. I caution my friends to avoid getting bogged down with names they can't pronounce nor remember. Understand, instead, the message God is sending through them and especially concentrate on how it affects your life. Meanwhile, back in Israel, Jehu is still cleansing the land. 2Kgs. 10:18-28 tells how he accomplished it. Jehonadab remains at his side. Jehu tricked the worshipers of Baal, along with their priests, to assemble under the guise of a grand hoopla honoring Baal. He pretended to be one of them. You can imagine what happened to them. Jehu ordered their destruction. Because of his actions, God promised him that his descendants would sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation, as is brought out at 10:30. The account of the deeds of Jehu don't end on that happy note. There is a sour tune emerging when he turned to worshiping the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. Will they ever learn? The question, my friends, is will we ever learn? Joash is now introduced. He has been secluded since his youth and is now about six years old. Under the tuteladge of the priests and the Levites the lad was finally presented to the people as a surviving heir. Athaliah had the nerve to call out, "Treason! Treason!" And that was the end of her. Joash becomes the child-king of Judah. 2Kgs. 11:17-20 and 2Chron. 23:16-21 relate how Jehoida, the priest, made a covenant that he and the people and the king would be the Lord's people. Today's affirmation: I will understand that what we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God. (Eleanor Powell) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Thursday, February 18, 2010

 

There are some things of which we all are sure. In the area of biblical knowledge I have learned a thing or two from Pastor Mike, the executive pastor at my church. He teaches/preaches his sermons on a verse by verse basis each Sunday. That was new to me. But, as I travel through God's Word along with you, I have found that to be the best method. I have also discovered that when you are studying the Holy Scriptures, it helps to use more than one version. When it becomes necessary for me to engage in research, I often follow this advice. This submission is one of those occasions. The book of Joel is short on words, but long on meaning. There is a lot of prophecy in it. When you encounter the prophetic word of God, it is best to seek assistance. As I have mentioned earlier, I am not a theologian, but a student of the bible. But, in essence, that is probably a good definition of a theologian. First, let me forewarn you that I will not provide a detailed summary of this book. Instead, I will give you the background of which you can use to read it later. Not much is known about Joel, except that he is the son of Pethuel. Samuel also had a son of that name, but his sons were evil in the eyes of God. There are three chapters in this book. You need to realize that it goes from local to future application. There are segments that will arouse controversy. Please be cognizant that I have analyzed the book verse by verse; I am using the interpretation of the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Prophets, says Dr. McGee, do not contradict each other, nor do they exaggerate. They do not speak of the church. I agree with Dr. McGee on most of his issues. He uses the King James Version. He admonishes those who study the bible to get the full view. In other words, avoid taking a snapshot. Instead, use the movie camera. The fulfillment of prophecy in the New Testament draws upon the Old. Joel begins with an account of the presence of locusts in Jerusalem. Pastor Mike has said that one should be cautious about looking for symbolism in the bible; that the bible basically says what it wants to say. Albeit it is helpful to understand figurative language, care must be taken not to consider all that is provided to be symbolic passages. The devastation by locusts in chapter one is interpreted by most to be an actual occurance. When it reveals the different type of locusts, Dr. McGee references the four horsemen of Revelation. Joel was the first of the writing prophets so we should pay special attention to his account. In order to understand Revelation, it is important to understand Joel. The first chapter warns the southern kingdom of Judah. The theme of Joel is the DAY OF THE LORD. It is mentioned six times in the brief book. Dr. Mcgee warns of confusing the DAY OF THE LORD with THE LORD'S DAY. Chapter one serves as the prelude to Joel. It begins with the tribulation and ends with the second coming of Christ. Our hope is in the time when there will be an eternal kingdom. In verses 13-20 it reveals that God is asking for a holy fast. This is in direct contrast to his requirements of happy festivals. It is written for a future time. The new testament uses the word THAT DAY and it means the same period. Chapter two gives an account of the DAY OF THE LORD. It explains that it will begin in darkness in keeping with the start of the Hebrew day.  Later, there is a call for rededication. It requires repentance. Verses 12-17 reminds us of God's gracious and compassionate nature. But, it also refers to sin. The term "blow the trumpet in Zion" is used and reminds us of the time when the Israelites would migrate at its sound. In fact, Dr. McGee says that the word for preacher also means trumpet. The chapter continues and points to the future when man will be judged. But, we must always realize that God doesn't like to judge. But, He can and He will. Verses 28-32 are controversial. Especially with those who believe in speaking in tongues. It begins: "And afterward, I will pour out my spirit on all people." The question is WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN? Has it already taken place? Did it occur at the time of Pentecost. Dr. McGee thinks not. Chapter three is also prophetic. What is meant by "in those days and at that time"? This also can be considered disputable. A warning is given to some nations, such as Tyre and Sidon, Egypt and Edom. There is a verse in Joel 3:9-17 that advises: beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears." I will leave that to your own interpretation. The end of the chapter may be considered a beginning in some ways. Dr. McGee thinks it speaks of the DAY OF THE LORD. Finally, when you read the new testament you will find the phrase, IN FULFILLMENT OF THE PROPHECY. If not familiar with the original word, then how are you to truly benefit from this reference? Today's affirmation: I may not want to admit it, but I know prophecy has a place in my life because it confirms to me that God's Word is true and his plans will take place. I know that He is gracious but that I will be judged one day. The state of my conscience affects the state of my mental condition. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Friday, February 19, 2010

 

The annals of Joash, the child-king, continue. This time, he has grown up under the supervision of the priest, Jehoiada. The last submission seemed out of place as it was identified as the book of Joel. But, remember that it was historically correct. The locusts invaded Judah during the reign of Joash around 800 b.c. Consequently, we will begin with a grown-up Joash. At 2Chron. 24:3 it tells us that Jehoida chose two wives for Joash and he had sons and daughters. Joash is found to do some good and some evil in Judah. Isn't that true of us, my friends? Our lives consist of a blend of both. At 2Kgs. 12:4,5 and 2Chron. 24:4,5 some of his good deeds are recorded. Joash said to the priests, "Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the Lord_the money collected in the census, the money received from the personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple..."Go to the towns of Judah and collect the money due annually from all Israel, to repair the temple of your God. Do it now." But the Levites did not act at once. In Israel, trouble is brewing. 2Kgs. 10:32,33 tells us that the Lord reduced the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered them. In the meantime, Jehu's death is recorded. He was buried in Samaria. We find, at 2Kgs. 10:35;13:1, that Jehoahaz his son succeeded him as king. You will notice that the bible places him in power at the time of Joash's twenty-third year as king of Judah. Jehoahaz reigned seventeen years. As for his character goes, Jehoahaz did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam. In Judah, 12:6-16, we find the temple still had not been repaired. Therefore the king summoned Jehoida the chief priest and said to him, "Why haven't you required the Levites to bring from Judah and Jerusalem the tax imposed by Moses the servant of the Lord and by the assembly of Israel for the Tent of the Testimony?" Then he asked, "Why aren't  you repairing the damage done to the temple?" Later, work began on the repair and the men in charge of the work were diligent, and the repairs progressed under them. Scripture tells us that as long as Jehoida lived, burnt offerings were presented continually in the temple of the Lord. Then, Jehoida passed at the age of a hundred and thirty and was buried with the kings of the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple. (2Chron. 24:15,16). Following his death, things started to come apart at the seams. First, Jehoida's son was killed for speaking out against Joash when he accepted paganism. See 2Chron. 24:17-17 and 20-22. We will find that Joash would pay for this deed with his very life. Things weren't progressing any better in Israel when the Syrians attacked them. Remember Hazael? He's at it again. But 2Kgs. 13:4 finds Jehoahaz repenting before the Lord. Israel suffered greatly. I can relate to this, and perhaps so can many of my friends. You repent. You suffer for your deeds. Sometimes it takes disaster to bring us to our senses. In Judah, the Syrians also gave them a wake up call. They devastated them, killing all of the leaders as recorded at 2Chron. 24:23,24. But, Judah offered a bribe. What did they use for money? The valuables of the temple, of course. Joash seems to dig a deeper hole for himself with each deed. Jehoahaz dies and was buried in Samaria. This can be documented at 2Kgs. 13:8,9. And Jehoash succeeds him and he reigned sixteen years. He continued the legacy of evil doing in the land. (2Kgs. 13:11) He did show compassion when Elisha was on his deathbed. Please read the prophecy that was uttered from Elisha as he prepared for death at 2Kgs. 13:14-19. The finale for this division comes when Joash was assassinated. They avenged the murder of the son of Jehoida, the priest. Today's affirmation: "I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed." (author unknown). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, February 20, 2010

 

I think prayers are best when they are brief. Rick Warren, in his book THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, calls them "breath prayers." In other words, you pray as long as you have a stream of breath. Then you stop. And you continue until you have finished. Hopefully, he doesn't mean you go on until you are out of breath. This section will be brief as well. I try to write my segments in such a way that they can be read in five to ten minutes. Prophecy takes a little longer than most because of its very nature. Using the introduction from THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, I will use that which is provided by its editor, F. LaGard Smith. In it he writes that over the next sixty years the kings of Israel and Judah will continue their spiritual decline. He continues, it is increasingly clear that God's patience is running out and that captivity is in sight for the people of Israel. He mentions the names of special messengers sent to cry out against increased spiritual and moral decay_Jonah in Ninevah; Amos and Hosea in Israel. With a backdrop in Judah, 2Kgs. 12:21; 14:1,2 and 2Chron,. 24:27; 25:1 relate that Amaziah succeeded Joash after his assassination. He was twenty-five when he became king and reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Jehoaddin; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord to a certain extent as is evidenced in 2Kgs. 14:3-6 and 2Chron. 25:2-4. The high places were not removed and people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. A miracle takes place in Israel when the Moabites invaded during a funeral service and those in attendance threw the body into Elisha's tomb. Most Christians have heard about this account. When the man's body touched the bones of Elisha the man came to life and stood up on his feet. (2Kgs. 13:20,21) In the next few verses it relates how Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. The death of Hazael king of Aram is recorded. And his son Ben-Hadad succeeded him. Then Jehoash, son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. In Judah we find Amaziah has devised a plan to destroy the Edomites. When he paid mercenaries from Israel to help, a man of God rebuked him. He sent them packing but that was not the end of them. Read how they repaid Amaziah for his action against them at 2Chron,. 25:13. The Edomites were destroyed, but rather than worshipping the Lord in gratitude Amaziah sets up idols. Then, 2Kgs. 14:8-14 and 2Chron. 25:17-24 tell how Judah was beaten by Israel. Read it for its full flavor. Jehoash dies and another Jeroboam succeeds him as king. (2Kgs. 13:12,13 and 2Kgs. 14:15,16) Today's affirmation: I can see from biblical history that people don't change over night. My change may also be gradual. If I don't change, I will suffer the consequences. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, February 21, 2010

 

As I begin to comment on the book of Jonah, I am aware that there are those who will wonder when we ended the book of Second Kings. Well, Jonah's  prophecy is uttered against the Nenevites in the midst of Jeroboam II's reign. So, since we are historically accurate, the book of Jonah is another one of those little books that's smashed in the middle of another like an atom bomb. When I noticed that his name also begins with "J" I began to give this occurance more thought. It seems more than coincidental. Lacking a proper segue, I will simply relate a story about my grand-twins, Jaden and Jada. My cousin, Carol, and I share more than a bloodline. For one thing she is my hair stylist and another her grandchildren's names all begin with the letter "J" as do mine. I searched the meaning of their names. Jaden is Hebrew and means "God has heard." Jada is a derivative of Jade; it is Spanish and references the green gemstone. It was popularized by the Smiths in Hollywood. Then, I began to think of the biblical characters whose names began with "J". So, I mused, "does it have something to do with Jehovah?" The account in the book of Jonah has much to do with God. Albeit Jonah sends a powerful message, its canonicity is often questioned. People consider it an allegory. In such, the characters are represented symbolically. Many rank it along with Aesop's fables. A fish tale it is not. Since he is a prophet, I consulted Dr. J. Vernon McGee for his thoughts on the book. Dr. McGee quotes 2Kgs. 14:25 when Jeroboam references Jonah son of Amittai. This is another occasion wherein I will not examine the book in a detailed format. The story is a familiar one and will take less than fifteen minutes to read later. What I will do is to give you the significance of the prophet's journey. Dr. McGee begins his explanation by expounding on the relevance of the books of the Old Testament's impact upon the Christian faith. Jonah, he asserts, reveals the concept of the resurrection. In the New Testament, says Dr. McGee, Jesus validates Jonah's existence when he gave hints of his death; he would remain buried for three days_the time Jonah spent in the fish. There were six subjects identified by Dr. McGee found in the book. They include: resurrection; salvation by faith; grace; God will not cast us aside for faithlessness; God is good and gracious and He is also the God of the Gentiles. Today's affirmation: When God speaks to me I will listen. I may argue with God and still remain close to Him. I must do His will in the end. I will ruminate on things about which God has spoken to me and I have ignored. I will not consider the story of Jonah to be a good fable. I know that it is from God and is included in the bible for my benefit. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, February 22, 2010

 

The book of Hosea, a prophet, is special to me and so it will be with many of you. It is different. I am different. And I like it that way. I will take you on a verse-by-verse voyage through this book, which proves to be not as "little" as some of the other prophets we have studied. In fact, it is larger than the book of Daniel. As we dive into the prophetic word it will take more time to introduce them. Today, I will do just that. I will give you a "breath" prayer. In other words, a short one. In this submission I will set it up and then in subsequent ones I will analyze them. As has been previously done, I will use the insight of Dr. J. Vernon McGee from BLUE LETTER BIBLE WEBSITE. As has been my pattern, I will use much of my God-given creative language. Hosea prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel.  He often referenced it as "Ephraim." He was speaking out against the Baal-worshipping habits of Israel. He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel. In the introduction of my bible of choice it says God called upon Hosea to marry a woman whom God knew would be unfaithful to him and bear children of her unfaithfulness. It continues,  even the children's names pronounce God's prophecy. Jezreel, the firstborn, predicts that the people of Israel will be "scattered by God", in clear reference to the eventual conquering of Israel by foreign invaders, who will take them out of the land of Canaan. The second child, Lo-ruhamah, warns that when this time comes God will be "without mercy." And, as if that were not enough, the third child, Loammi, signifies God's total rejection of Israel, of whom he will say, "not my people." When Hosea's wife, Gomer, consorts with other lovers she only typifies Israel's unfaithfulness in playing the harlot with other gods. Hosea redeems his wife from literal slavery as God stands ready to redeem his people  from sin. The prophet Hosea begins his ministry during Jeroboam's reign, and will continue his work for the next 60 or 65 years. His ministry will span the reigns of the the next two or three kings of Israel along with Jeroboam's. The editor writes, no message has more impact than one growing out of the messenger's own experience. Some consider it to be an allegory.  Today's affirmation: God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them. (Stanley Lindquist) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Tuesday, February 23, 2010

 

Yesterday my son-in-law, Omar, said "the economy is not a pretty picture." Well, portions of my life have not been "pretty" nor is the book of Hosea. Hosea's home was broken and so was his heart. As we cover chapters one through three, we will discover details about the prophet's personal life. But, it is intermingled with the relationship God had with the nation of Israel. Sometimes one may wonder where one ends and the other begins. You also will discover the present state of the the modern day Israel's own redemption. I will continue to reference the interpretation of Dr. McGee. Some of what he relates will be controversial, especially to those of the Hebrew nation. In fact, Dr. McGee considers Chapter three to be the prophetic state of Jerusalem. He spends more time on this tiny passage than he does on the three chapters in their totality.  I must spend time interpreting the meaning of the verses, so I will not be able to analyze each one. It is my belief that the application of the scripture is more important. I hope that you will read the individual verses as I have. Chapter one speaks of Gomer, Hosea's adulterous wife and the illegitimate children she bore him. I am a love child and know the stigma of being such. I have given the meanings of the names of the three children and related it to the northern kingdom. The first born child's name is especially significant as it is also the name of a place where a massacre took place under the leadership of Jehu. The nation of Israel was involved in the same adulterous relationship with Baal as was Gomer with her lovers. Some wonder why God focused upon the northern kingdom and not the southern. Many consider it unfair. Modern day churches are also engaged in spiritual halotry when they water down the scriptures. And individuals are equally guilty in their relationship with the Lord. Gomer was identified as an adulteress and and a harlot. I was the former. But, we must remember that Rahab was both and she became an ancestress of the Messiah. In Chapter 1:10-24 hope for the future is revealed. Dr. McGee considers the first verse as a reference to modern Israelites. "Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people, they will be called 'sons of the living God.' The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel. "Say of your brothers, 'My people,' and of your sisters, 'My loved one.' Dr. McGee has determined that there are several prophecies regarding modern day Israelites. First, there will be increase; then, they will be sons of the living God; the tribes will be joined together and there will be one leader. In chapter two we see that Hosea loved Gomer but she credited her comforts to her lovers. This is directly referencing how Israel considered the gods to be the source of their well being. We must realize that Hosea was the perfect prophet to speak about this subject matter as he had experienced it for himself. That is the very reason I have embarked upon this calling to help the depressed. I have been there and done that. The chapter goes on to explain how God will revenge himself against the northern tribe. It says, "I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot." Do you see the parallel between Gomer and the northern tribes? Verses 14-23 tells about the forgiveness and acceptance that will take place. In the first stanza it references the Valley of Achor and Dr. McGee reminds us of its significance during the times of Joshua when God dealt with the sins of His people. The second and third stanzas begin with "in that day" and most consider this to be the last days, the time of the great tribulation. Dr. McGee does not think that God is finished with the nation of Israel and admonishes us not to write them off. The last consideration is found at Chapter three, verses four and five. It reads, For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days. Note the phrase "the Israelites will live many days." Dr. McGee reminds us that in years past the people knew the length of days for their exile. Abraham knew, for example, that they would be in Egypt for 430 years and Jeremiah prophesied their seventy year captivity in Babylon. But in this passage it simply says, "many days." Some may say 'but they have a country'. Have they? They have the wailing wall. Much of the remainder is shared with other nations. The next submission will give an account of the prophetic section. Today's affirmation: I may have been as Gomer. I  may have engaged in an adulterous affair. I may even have played the part of a harlot. But God hasn't counted me out and neither should I do that to myself. God has a special place in his heart for harlots. He chose one to be an ancesstress of the Messiah. I can ask for forgiveness and hold my head up high, knowing that I have been redeemed. Harlotry comes in many forms. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Wednesday, February 24, 2010

 

Have you ever made a choice and didn't quite understand why you did so at the time? My decision to reference Dr. J. Vernon McGee as the source of my interpretation of prophecy was one such as that. There are many from whom to choose. But, the Lord directed me to this man. The late Dr. McGee was known for his pastorate of the Church of the Open door in downtown Los Angelos from 1949 to 1970. I was born in 1948 and finished college in 1970. He began a series known as THRU THE BIBLE in 1967 around the time I finished high school. After retirement he set up a radio headquarters in Pasadena. I consider my life's work to have started following retirement as well, when I embarked upon this website. Today programs air on over four hundred stations daily here and in Canada in more than 100 languages worldwide and over the internet. Dr. McGee, like myself, doesn't think the church should have a name. I recently joined a non-denominational church. He also thinks the bible should be presented historically as I have done here. So, albeit he has gone to be with the Lord, his influence in my life and in the lives of countless others continues. Today I will analyze chapter four with the help of this wonderful man of God whose words are often contradictory and sting some segments of the population like a wasp. In Hosea 1:1-6 Israel's sins are confronted. It begins, Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds."  Does that sound familiar? Dr. McGee considers similar situations existing in society today. Pastor Mike at my church gave us statistics of the population in the town  in which I live and compared it with those attending church. I don't have the numbers but those attending church are few compared to the population in my bedroom community. Dr. McGee says that most people think that the concept of "love" is introduced in the New Testament, but it is also often referenced in the Old. The book of Hosea certainly mentions it frequently with the scriptural account of Hosea's love for Gomer and the lack of love on the part of the northern kingdom. It seems that the Israelites were breaking the ten commandments. In 4:6-9 the priests are rejected. The account reveals, The more the preists increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. As the account continues in Hosea 4:10-19 it relates that they received no satisfaction from their behavior. "They will eat but not have enough; they will engage in prostitution but not increase, because they have deserted the Lord to give themselves to prostitution, to old wine and new, which take away the understanding of my people." Dr. McGee considered them to have a "new morality," akin to the one that permeated his society. He mentioned the worship of Satan. Later, these words of warning are issued to Judah: "Though you commit adultery, O Israel, let not Judah become guilty..." The term "back sliding" is used as a way  to express how the Israelites refused to follow God. Today's affirmation: I realize that what happened with the nation of Ephraim took place a long time ago, but that it directly affects me. I, too, can be judged. I must not be stubborn as they were. I must take an assessment of my life and seek the help of God and those of the mental health community. I understand that ignorance of the law is no excuse. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, February 25, 2010

 

When I was a young girl, there was clique who had lived in the little town to which I had migrated longer than I. So, somehow they considered themselves a step above me. They knew that before my bonus father married my mother she had children out of wedlock. We came along with the package. One summer day I was practicing my instrument in the band room and they passed singing a song with stinging lyrics: Going to the chapel and we're going to get married; going to the chapel and we're going to get married. It didn't matter that one of them had been born  under similar circumstances and neither had the benefit of a father in the home nor enjoyed the same socio-economic existence as I did. I am a love child_yes. But, illegitimate I am not. Parents, not their children, bear that burden. And, even children born with the benefit of having a legal father can be illegitimate. How? When parents bring their children up in an atmosphere void of knowledge of God, they are indeed illegitimate. Such was the case of the northern tribes of Israel. For this submission two chapters will be considered, five and six. And they are doleful ones. Referencing Dr. McGee's interpretation, we find that God condemned the leadership. (Hosea 5:1-15). In the first few verses the royal house and the priests are addressed and berated. Please remember that the prophecy is issued with Hosea's personal life as a backdrop. Israel, like Gomer, has played the harlot. Dr. McGee observes, in his commentary, that the name "Ephraim" refers to the collective ten tribes of Israel and that they are the center of idolatry. In the second stanza Judah is also referenced. Their day is coming_later. In the final verses of the stanza it reads, They are unfaithful to the Lord; they give birth to illegitimate children. In the third stanza they were warned. A bag of similes is poured out in Hosea's writing. He writes in the final verses, I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah. The decay of Judah will take place over a longer period of time as rot weakens wood, but Israel is like the destruction of a moth, quick and overwhelming. In the last stanza it mentions how Ephraim visited a quack doctor, Assyria, for help. The account goes, But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. Continuing, For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. In other words, the damage from a lion is more intense than that of a cub. Then God says ,"... I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me."  In the first three verses of chapter six, a last call is issued. Pay special attention to the sixth verse: After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Recall the death and birth of the Messiah. Dr. McGee thinks modern day Israel will return in the last day and interprets the last few verses of 6:1-3 as the future purpose of Israel: "...As surely as  the sun rises, he will appear; he will  come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains, that water the earth." Last to be considered is Hosea 6:4-11. Dr. McGee brings out the fact that Israel was a religious nation. That was not the problem. They simply had turned away from God. Can that be true of us today? Yes, we have our rituals but do we have faith in God? Are we worshipping Him in spirit and in truth? In fact, religion has kept many from knowing God. Unbelievers watch you and want no part of your religion. The stanza begins, "What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears." It continues the denouncement by saying God desires mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings. It ends with a warning to Judah, "Also for you, Judah, a harvest is appointed..." Today's affirmation: I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice. (Albert Einsten) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

Submitted Friday, February 26, 2010

 

I am always amazed by the scores of people who have no knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. They simply don't take the time to read the messages that God has left for us in His Word, the Bible. They blatantly admit it as if they were saying 'I don't know much about skydiving.' Most don't know about such matters, but the Word of God is different. You are suppose to know of it. Skydiving is life threatening and the bible can save your life. There are many who begin to read the submissions I post on this website that contain God's Word only to stop after reading a few of them. They don't have time, they say. It's too complicated, say others. They are all excuses. They will sit in front of a televison and unravel the intricate plots of a movie with little effort. They find time to watch sports events that last forever. Many attend church where only a few moments of the service are devoted to the actual teaching of God's Words. Much time is spent engaged in ritualistic ceremonies. And the little time that is devoted to the Word of God is given in emotional deliveries designed to stir you for the moment. And, then it is life as usual. God has left us a written contract. Most don't pay attention to it. Such was the situation in Israel, the northern tribes. For this segment, two more chapters will be outlined, seven and eight. Hosea was not a popular prophet, in his day nor now. And, sometimes neither is this website. What took place then is applicable to today's society. Dr. McGee, my expert of choice, says we have stepped over the line in many ways. Ancient Israel blatantly flaunted their sins and so do we as a society. Hosea 7:1-7 exposes the sins of Ephraim. Samaria, the capital is mentioned for, what appears to be, the first time. In this section, God attempts to call them back but instead of turning to God, they turn to other kings, Egypt and Assyria. The second stanza gives the account of how their sins pleased the leadership. If you have taken the time to read the chapters verse by verse, you may have noticed a multitude of figurative language. Mostly similes. Their gross immorality is referenced. Dr.McGee calls it sauce and sex; that is, the abuse of alcohol and sex. In his commentary, Dr. McGee reminds us that the northern tribes of Israel never experienced a "good" king. While Judah was not much better, it did have five. Figuarative language continues to be evidenced in verses eight through sixteen. A metaphor is used in the second verse: Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over. An excellent simile is employed in the second stanza: "Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless_now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria. When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air... The account continues, I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me. In this section, God is explaining why He will send them into captivity; He has spelled out their sins in previous chapters. In the eighth chapter it reveals that they have broken His covenant. They have set up  kings without his consent. As chapter eight winds down, the third stanza gives this account: "Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings these have become altars for sinning. I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien. And it ends with: Now he will remember their wickedness and punish thier sins; They will return to Egypt. Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; Judah has fortified many towns. But I will send fire upon their cities that will consume their fortresses." Today's affirmation: I will make room for the Lord in my life. I will not consider it to be something I do on Sunday mornings. I will not dismiss it as out dated and irreverant. I will not consider it apart from my illness. In some cases, it is my illness. I know that God has given me intelligence and set me above the lower creatures. I will use that position to my advantage. I will seek professional help as well. I will repeat the words of A. Philip Parham: God believes in me; Therefore my situation is never hopeless. God walks with me; Therefore I am never alone. God is on my side; Therefore I can never lose. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Saturday, February 27, 2010

 

Disasters happen throughout the world. They do now and they always have. After World War II we experienced a false sense of prosperity, according to Dr. McGee. People saw us as big brother. The bombings did not take place on our soil. We were, to some degree, being judged with prosperity. Fast forward to contemporary society. Natural disasters are rampant. Things haven't changed much in other ways as well. We are spending more and enjoying it less. The stock market is more important than the scripture. We exist in a land where there is no spiritual discernment. We have turned away from God and his name has become a swear word. Dr. McGee blames the leadership now just as God did in the nation of Israel. Hosea 9:1-17 speaks of the punishment that is in store for Ephraim. In the first stanza it says, Do not rejoice, O Israel; do not be jubilant like the other nations. For you have been unfaithful to your God; you love the wages of a prostitute at every threshing floor. God had allowed Israel to experience a certain degree of prosperity but it will not bring them peace and security. Stanza One continues, They will not remain in the Lord's land; Ephraim will return to Egypt and eat unclean food in Assyria. The second stanza speaks of the imminent day of punishment. The sins of Israel are many. In stanza three, God reflects upon happier times: When I found Israel it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. He then says, But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to the shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved. God warned that they will not enjoy increase in population. The women will be barren.  Chapter ten predicts captivity. The first few verses of 10:1-15 gives us a metaphor that can be applicable to the Messiah: Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. Jesus said He was the vine. The northern tribes observed feasts that the Lord established during the times of Moses. But, then they would worship Baal. They were double minded. In the second stanza it reveals that the golden calf they worshipped would be given as a gift to the king of Assyria. The last verse says, Then they will say to the mountains, "Cover us!" and to the hills, "fall on us!" This also references the great tribulation. The last verse gives this account: But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated_ as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. Thus will it happen to you, O Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed. Today's affirmation: I can't live by the devil's standard and reap righteousness. I will reap whatever I sow.  This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, February 28, 2010

 

In the United States there are televison shows that inundate the airways. They are hosted by judges and they preside over cases presented by every day people who are seeking justice. Admittedly, I have glanced at a few, for there are many. At least they are without vulgarity and violence. They fail to hold my attention for an extended time as I have figured out the type persons seeking justice. For the most part, they are those who have co-habitated and the affair soured. When presenting their sides of the story, they speak as if living with a mate to whom they are not married is as normal as eating apple pie. It isn't. And their complaints evolved around monetary compensation. The judges are firm during the testimony and equally so as they reach their verdict. To a degree, this is what is happening in Israel. Perhaps it may appear more extreme, but when you live with another without the benefit of matrimony it may be considered a form of idolatry at its worst and sin at best. Somehow, the judges are able to unscramble the stories and assign victory to the deserving party. In Israel, God has already determined the sins of Israel, but hasn't given up on them. Dr. McGee seems to think that this love that God shows for Israel of old, will be demonstrated to contemporary Israelites sometime in the future. Beginning with Hosea 11:1-11 God speaks of the days when He loved the infant nation. It says, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. God does not force anyone to serve Him. In the second stanza it continues, "Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their  plans. In the last stanza God demonstrates frustration for this nation that he chose as His son. A nation who was selected because He loved them, not because of merit. Please read what God ruminates in that stanza. The eleventh chapter continues as God recalls Ephraim's sins. In Hosea ll:12-13:3, the the first stanza condemns them. Then God remembers Jacob. He recalled how Jacob wrestled with God, but was victorious because he surrendered to God. The Israelites thought they were blessed because of their prosperity. Abraham Lincoln once said "you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time." This was referenced by Dr. McGee. And certainly the Israelites could not fool God. In the third stanza, God reminds them, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed feasts..." God continues to jog their memories of how Jacob fled to the country of Aram seeking a wife. The last stanza concludes, Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window. Striking figuarative language is employed to drive home the points. Historical facts are peppered throughout chapter thirteen. God is reminding them that they shall acknowledge no God but Him. He tells them that, So I will come upon them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk by the path, Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. The animals refer to nations; for example, the lion references Babylon. I invite you to continue reading Chapter thirteen for further details. In the fourteenth chapter Israel receives a promise of forgiveness. And it is here that Dr. McGee says they will be saved in the future. In other words, love will win. Please read that for its full flavor. As we meander through the prophets, it becomes increasingly challenging to blatantly draw you into its lessons. Yet, the morals are there. Todays's affirmation is based upon the sermon of Dr. Mike, executive pastor, at my church. God, I need your mercy. Be merciful to me a sinner. I can't go to you based on my mercy. I will humble myself. I will schedule prayer. I will begin with praise and thanksgiving and will be specfic in that regard. I will pray the promise and not the problem. I choose to trust that God will take care of me. I choose to trust Him. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you believe it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Monday, March 1, 2010

 

Just when I think I have run out of ways to introduce the segments, another opportunity arises. For this section, it arose at my church. I was engaged in conversation with fellow members after the service. I confessed to them that I considered myself to be different from most. And I could care less what others thought of me. I went a step further to say that we must be careful about labeling people. Sometimes those we do not consider to be Christians may be more authentic than we are. That didn't make good fodder for a casual conversation, but it's so like me, as the youngsters would say. A fellow church member said that we must be cautious about being extremist. He further stated that some people are either very, very good or either very, very bad. They don't know how to stay in the middle of the road. That started me to ponder. 'Am I like that?' After some after thought, I remembered those of the congregations in the book of Revelation that were "luke warm." So, I suppose the person was accurate. At one time, I was very bad and now I am trying to be very good. I am not luke warm. In fact there is a nursery rhyme to that affect: when he was good, he was very, very good but when he was bad he was horrid, so goes part of the rhyme. For this entry I am going to prepare you for the next book. Yes, it is that of a prophet. This time it is Amos. Hosea was the contemporary of Amos. Despite the warnings of Hosea, the people continued to worship idols. Amos prophesied during the days of Uzziah and Jeroboam II. More about this strange man in the next submission. Today's affirmation: I may be different, but sometimes different is better. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, March 2, 2010

 

He was the country preacher who came to town. At least, that is how Dr. McGee describes Amos. He lived in Tekoa and was a lowly shepherd. Tekoa was near Bethlehem. His prophetic word took on a more global view than those of his contemporaries. Tekoa was virtually a desert area in the wilderness. Amos' messages were for the present as well as the future. He was essentially a migrant worker whose chief occupation was that of a herdsmen, although he also gathered sycamores. In the introduction from my bible of choice, the editor did an excellent job of presenting Amos. He said that Amos lived in the days of Uzziah and Jeroboam II and was a lowly shepherd from Tekoa, near Bethlehem in Judah. He was sent to prophesy against several nations but principally against Israel. Amos came to Israel at a time when Jeroboam's great military successes have brought unparalleled prosperity, and with it selfishness, greed, and immorality. Although he comes to the center of calf worship at Bethel, he does not attack idolatry as such (as does his contemporary, Hosea). He concentrates instead on rebuking both Israel and Judah for the meaninglessness of their worship, whatever its form. He calls for consistency in one's religious exercises and daily ethical conduct, and cries out against a people who honor deity with their many sacrifices yet refuse justice and mercy to the oppressed and needy. Amos' message comes first in the form of eight "burdens" against various nations. Three sermons of judgment then follow, and an oracle containing five visions: of locusts, fire, a plumb line, ripe fruit, and the altar. Amos ends his writing with a message of hope and a promise of restoration. It is not surprising that Amos is rebuked by Amaziah, the high priest, for it is, after all, the selfish religious establishment which has led the people into this institutionalized and meaningless form of religion. I couldn't have said it better, and I didn't attempt to do so. In the next segment we will venture into the prophetic words of Amos. Today's affirmation comes from T. D. Jakes, entitled BECAUSE. Just because no one has been fortunate enough to realize what a gold mine you are, doesn't mean you shine any less. Just because no one has been smart enough to figure out that you can't be topped, doesn't stop you from being the best. Just because no one has come along to share your life, doesn't mean that day isn't coming. Just because no one has made this race worthwhile, doesn't give you permission to stop running. Just because no one has realized how much of an awesome woman you are, doesn't mean they can affect your feminity. Just because no one has shown up who can love you on your level, doesn't mean you have to sink to theirs. Just because you deserve the very best there is, Doesn't mean that life is always fair. Just because God is still preparing your king, Doesn't mean that you're not already a Queen. Just because your situation doesn't seem to be progressing right now, doesn't mean you need to change a thing. Keep shining, keep running, keep hoping, and keep praying, Keep being exactly what you are already. COMPLETE. Albeit Bishop Jakes addressed the feminine gender, it can apply to the masculine as well. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Wednesday, March 3, 2010

 

The more I study prophecy, the more I realize that God's will shall be done. Prophecy has proven that. The "burdens" of the nations about which Amos preached and the punishment God rendered, lets us know that His prophets spoke His words and that future revelations will take place as well. I am humbled by the skills demonstrated by Dr. McGee as he explains the implications of the prophecies. I could not do it alone as I have not been trained at a seminary. I am, however, a student of God's Word. It also places a "burden" upon me as I analyze my own behavior. Prophecy is either condemning or refreshing. It depends upon where you are in the puzzle. A general description has previously been revealed regarding this prophet. In spite of his humble origin, he was eloquent and diplomatic. I could use a few lessons in the latter. Dr. McGee thought him to be a little naive. I, too, appear gullible at  times. However, my naivite often conceals a keen understanding of human nature. Then, at times I am totally off base. And, in some instances I choose not to know. I can be aware of what is happening, yet act as if I am not. When Amos presented the eight "burdens" of the nations, he used a little guile. Speaking in Israel, probably in the king's palace, he began to condemn the other nations first. He launched his attack against the Syrians initially. Each condemnation began with the authoritative phrase, "This is what the Lord says". He also used an idiomatic expression before accusations were made. He said "For three sins...even for four, I will not turn back my wrath." He ended  by saying God would send fire upon the nations in return for the sins they committed. AGAINST THE SYRIANS: because she threshed Gilead  with sledges having iron teeth. Gilead is east of the bank of Jordan and you will recall there were tribes who chose to remain there. AGAINST PHILISTINES: because she took captive whole communites and sold them to Edom. The Edomites were related to Esau, brother of Jacob. AGAINST TYRE: because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood. Tyre and King David had established a covenant and were good friends. AGAINST EDOMITES: because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually.  AGAINST AMMONITES: because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders. This was a violent crime. AGAINST MOABITES: because he burned, as if to lime, the bones of Edom's king. This also was a heinous undertaking because the king was killed and then his bones were ground into dust. This nation was completely destroyed with no descendants. Yet, Ruth was born there. Then, the tides turned when Amos accused the privileged, Judah and Israel. AGAINST JUDAH: because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed. Here, says Dr. McGee, Amos refers to the breaking of the ten commandments. Later, for the finale, he points his finger at Israel, The Mosaic Law is used as the backdrop for Israel's sins_and they are many. For one thing, they mistreated the poor; then father and son would share prostitutes which is in direct opposition to the restrictions handed down in the Mosaic Law. The Amorites are addressed. They were the people of Jericho. And they are no more. Yet, Rahab, the harlot who helped Joshua destory them lived there. She, by the way, became an ancestress to Jesus Christ. They also were condemned for enticing the Nazirites to drink wine. These were young men who dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord. They were not to cut their hair; drink wine or even eat grapes; nor touch or look at a dead body. I invite further study of chapters one and two at a later time. Today's affirmation: I will do my best to do the will of God and not condemn myself nor others when God's will is not done. I will seek forgiveness and repent. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, March 4, 2010

 

I am no scientist, but I think one of the laws of nature is that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Some term this "cause and effect." You do something wrong and you pay the price. That it is the way it is now and that was the way it was when Amos prophesied. Amos didn't beat around the bush. He wasn't a people pleaser. And, though I do not compare myself with this man of God, I must confess that I do not tickle ears either. As we learned in earlier submissions, he was a country bumpkin. But a smart one. He used natural images to make a point as these were the ones familiar to him. In chapter three Amos revealed God's plan against the entire family of the tribes of Israel. It begins, Hear this word the Lord has spoken against you. O people of Israel_against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt. Previously, we have divided our attention between Israel and the less sinful Judah.  But, now the charge goes out against the entire tribes. "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins." In other words, privilege brings on responsibilities. According to Dr. McGee there were seven questions asked and answered and they make up the focus of this chapter: Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Does a lion roar in the thicket when he has no prey? Does he growl in his den when he has caught nothing? Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground where no snare has been set? Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch? When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? In chapter3:11-15 there is a promise of punishment. Please take the time to read the remaining verses.  Today's affirmation was sent me through electronic messaging. It is entitled, "Attitude." There was once a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today." So she did and she had a wonderful day..The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "H-M-M," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and she had a grand day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did and she had a fun, fun day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. "YEA!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!" Atitude is everything. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, March 5, 2010

 

Dr. McGee quoted Paul when he said "if we judge ourselves, we should not be judged." This was not the case of the northern tribe of Israel. In this submission we continue to study the prophet Amos. He has proven to be an eloquent speaker who used figurative language to his advantage. And, now he adds biting sarcasm and pungent satire. When I was a young girl, we called this tactic "trying to be funny." But humor was not the intent. In this section chapters four and five will be considered. In the former, warnings are given to the nation and in chapter five their future punishment is exposed. This is the last call. In the first few verses of Chapter four reference is made to the cows of Bashan. The region is east of the Jordan and the bovine animals were especially strong because of the natural vegetation. It references that the women were treated with luxuries like the fattened cows. Dr. McGee goes a little further to mention that the "women" mentioned may very well have been homosexuals, as the practice was prevalent amid the enviornment of idol worship. I hesitated when considering whether this should be included, for fear of insulting certain sections of our society. But, like Dr. McGee, my mission is to tell it like it is. The scripture states that the nation was hooked on iniquity. And it reached into the palace, as will the judgment. In the second verse of Amos 4:11, the prophet again employs satire when he says, "Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn levened bread as a thank offering and brag about your free will offerings_boast about them, you Israelites, for this what  you love to do." Bethel was their center of idolotry and Gilgal was where the tribes stopped before crossing the Jordan. It was once sacred but now has been defiled. Between the stanzas, the phrase, "declares the Lord" is used. It continues by reminding the nation of how the Lord caused famine in the land, "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me..."  The verses tell how rain was withheld when the harvest was still three months away. "I sent rain on one town but witheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up.." This did not deter idolatry. The stanzas end with, yet you have not returned to me. God was  saying to them that he formed the mountains and sent the rain. He also turned dawn into darkness.. In the fifth chapter future punishment is prounounced. It begins with what appears to be a funeral dirge: "Fallen is virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land with no one to lift her up. The judgment is explicit, "The city that marches out a thousand strong for Israel will have only a hundred left; the town that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left." This it repeats: This is what the Lord says to the house of Israel. God is asking them to "Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba..." This is God's invitation for them to have life. They were going through the motions of worship but their practice didn't match their profession, so says Dr. McGee. He related it to modern worship. Sometimes we become swept away with the rituals and songs and the modern pulpit becomes a sounding board of the congregation. Please read the remainder of Chapter 5:1-15 for more illumination of the sins of Israel. Then, in 16-20 it speaks of the day of the Lord. This term was first used by the prophet Joel. It says, Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a  man fled from a lion only to meet a bear; as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. The chapter ends with a discussion of the emptiness of rituals. At Amos 5:27 the future of Israel is sealed: "..Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus," says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty. Dr. McGee interprets this as being exiled to Assyria. Today's affirmation:  Faith is the most powerful of all forces operating in humanity and when you have it in depth, nothing can get you down. Nothing. (Norman vincent Peale) This prayer we pray in the  name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

Submitted Saturday, March 6, 2010

 

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the kings' horses and all the kings' men, couldn't put Humpty back together again. So goes a familiar nursery rhyme. It also was used by Dr. McGee to describe the dire circumstances of the northern tribes of Israel.  As we continue in the prophecy of Amos, we find the tribes being rebuked in the first through fourteen verses of chapter six. Verse one begins with a "woe." Woes were also used in Revelation. They were rebuked for their complacency. They felt secure in their palatial surroundings. The first few verses say, Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! Go to Calneh and look at it; go from there to Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? The northern tribe is invited to see what happened to other kingdoms who had also become complacent. In this final series of Amos, the Israelites were being admonished in the present. The other chapters focused on the past and the future. Both Dr. McGee and I agree that the kingdom was destroyed because of such sins as drunkeness, gluttony, sex and immoral music_very much like our own. Recall that Amos did not preach against the idolatry to the extent that Hosea did, but rather took a more global view. Focus on these words: You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end. Chapter seven relates three visions revealed to Amos by God. First, there were the locusts. In this vision Amos cried out, "Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!" So the Lord relented. Please read the entire vision at Amos 7:1-3. Then, beginning at verse four, the Vision of Fire is explained. Some equate this to a drought. The Lord again said, "This will not happen either."  Again, I invite your consideration of the entire vision later. Then, at verses 7-9 a familiar image is used. That of a plumb line. Dr. McGee explains that whenever this imagery is employed in the bible, it means God is preparing to judge. Chapter seven continues but the last vision will be given in chapter eight. What happened next was inevitable. A priest, representing the establishment, rebukes Amos and stirs up trouble against him. Let us examine Chapter 7:10-13: Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: "Amos is raising a consipiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying: "Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land." Then Amaziah said to Amos, "Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom." The final verses of the seventh chapter gives Amos' reply. "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' Now then, hear the word of the Lord.' Read the clincher for yourselves as chapter seven concludes. Today's affirmation: I may not be formally educated, but I have worth and value. The Lord may still be able to use me. In fact, I may be refreshing to Him and just the type person He seeks; for I have been forgiven much and I love much. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, March 7, 2010

 

In the last chapter of Amos I am left with more questions than answers. And, perhaps so will you. In spite of the assistance received from Dr. McGee, it seems with this last chapter I must depend  on my own logic with discernment provided by God. In other words, this one is hard. From what I could decipher I have gleaned that there are two more visions remaining in Amos. The vision of ripe fruit and the vision of the altar. Let us begin with the first one. In Chapter eight, verses 1-3 it tells us, This is what the Sovreign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. "What do you see Amos?" he asked. "A basket of ripe fruit," I answered. Then the Lord said to me, "The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer..." Symbolically, harvest references judgment. It seems that there are different references to time in this part of the prophecy. You will recall Amos assumed a more global role than his counterpart. In my understanding, the present time for the punishment of Israel is addressed. Then the phrase "in that day" speaks of the great tribulation. Later, there is a promise of restoration for the nation of Israel. The prophetic word was fulfilled when Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians. However, there is prophetic word that remains to take place. Verses four through six focuses on the unethical religion of the ten tribes. Amos spends much time speaking about the poor. In the last verse it reads, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. Recall, if you will, provisions for gleaning in the Mosaic Law. At Amos 8:7-14 it begins, The Lord has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: "I will never forget anything they have done..." The Messiah is the pride of Jacob as was revealed by Dr. McGee. Dr. McGee reminds us that the present day does not satisfy prophecy. The ten lost tribes of Israel, he believes, are not represented by the people of another land, such as America and Great Britian. We know that the idolatrous nation of the wayward ten tribes will meet their waterloo but it appears that the prophecy extends beyond that. Some think we are presently in the Great Tribulation. Scripture in 8:7-14 reads, "The days are coming," declares the Sovreign Lord, "when I will send a famine through the land_not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord." Doesn't that ring of a more global influence than that of Amos' day?  Then the last vision, the vision of the altar is presented at Amos 9:1-10. This seems to be directed to the Israelites. The Assyrians are coming. The Cushites are mentioned. They were located in the area of Ethiopia. "Are not you Israelites the same to  me as the Cushites?" "Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt..." "Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth_yet I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob." "For I will give the command, and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, 'Disaster will not overtake or meet us.' The nation was destroyed but not the people. Dr. McGee challenges us to look to New York City and we will find more Hebrews there than in the nation of Israel. They have indeed been scattered. Dr. McGee thinks the finale of the chapter is wonderful. He warns that you cannot separate the land and the people. He thinks the Lord will return them to the land and the Dividic dynasty  will be restored. But, he warns that it has yet to take place. It is beyond doubt that this submission will meet with controversy. I have explained it as best I can. Prophecy is challenging and many have different interpretations. I choose to achieve uniformity by referencing a source I trust. I leave the rest up to God. If it causes you to think, then it has not been for naught.  Today's affirmation: There is so much in this world that I do not understand. But I know I have a Father who can. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, March 8, 2010

 

As we turn a sharp corner from the three "minor" prophets studied recently, we embark upon the ministry of perhaps the greatest evangelistic prophet ever known to God's people. A career that spanned forty years. The editor of my bible of choice wrote, Isaiah will do for Judah what Joel, Hosea and Amos have done for Israel: he will tell the people about God's judgment against religious formalism, idolatry, oppression, immorality and pride, and also warn them of the captivity they are about to face. LaGard, the editor of THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, relates that throughout his prophecies Isaiah repreatedly refers to the final day of the Lord, when all people will face judgment. Isaiah's messages tell of the coming of the Messiah and they are as meaningful to future generations as they are to those who live in Judah at this time. Let us segue into what transpired at the time in which he preached. It was during the reign of Uzziah and in the year immediately following his death. Uzziah, continuing with the introduction, reigned since at least 767 B.C. and was also known as Azariah. He was a successful regent, until he became arrogant. My friends, we must be careful of this behavior. It is akin to pride. Perhaps that is the root of many of your problems. Pride. Pride brought you to this point and it will, if you are not cautious, keep you there. It will raise its ugly head to prevent your seeking help. First, from the Lord and then from the mental health professionals put in place by God. What did Uzziah do? Well, he became so powerful that he burned incense in the temple. That was a duty for the annointed priests. We are referencning 2Kgs. 15:5 and 2Chron. 26:16-21. It reads, Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. His fury resulted from a confrontation with the priests who reminded him of his unfaithfulness. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house_leprous and excluded from the temple of the Lord. His son Jothan became co-regent. Today's affirmation comes from the New Testament at Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perserverance; perserverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, March 9, 2010

 

Prophecy is the mold into which history is poured is a quote uttered by Dr. McGee, as I followed his outline of the beginning of Isaiah. It seems as if I am about to embark upon a journey that will take me back and forth. In other words, my bible of choice might insert verses from one chapter into that of another. Instead of confusing, it is designed to clarify its historical occurance. If it happened where chapter five is provided and its chronological occurance comes earlier, then that is where it is placed. That makes for a nightmare when you are engaged in research. A challenge it may be, but it is indeed a labor of love. It does slow the progess of my submissions, however. But I will do whatever it takes to assure accuracy as is understood by my chosen teacher, as well as the discernment provided me by God. As a prelude to the study of Isaiah, Dr. McGee provided facts that may be considered trivial by some. There are sixty-six books of the bible and there are sixty-six chapters of Isaiah. There are over three hundred prophecies of the first coming of Christ and many are found in this book, which is sometimes considered the "fifth" gospel. Dr. McGee illuminates the three steps that precede the downfall of a nation: religious or spiritual apostosy; immorality and political anarchy. Notice some of these elements as I highlight what took place in Judah. Isaiah 1:1 reads, The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Of those mentioned, Ahaz was the one who did evil in the sight of the Lord. In verses 2-9 of chapter one the sinful state of Judah is laid bare and exposed to the world: Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." My friends, you may have reared rebellious children and that may have created the circumstances under which you presently toil. So, you understand how God feels about His special nation. And, you may feel guilty, thinking there must have been something you could have done differently to prevent the situation. Continuing, Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Perhaps, my friends, the problem with your errant off-spring rests with the fact that you have forsaken the Lord and did not consult with Him during the process of nurturing the young ones. Now, we have a surprise thrown into our study. It certainly was for me. The parable of the vineyard, from Isa. 5:1-7 is entered at this time. Dr. McGee considers it the most beautiful song ever written. I invite you to read it in its entirety. It relates how God cultivated Israel (the vineyard) in fertile soil. He did everything He could to make sure it produced good fruit. But it yielded only sour grapes. The vineyard parable relates what God will do to the vineyard: Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it. A well seasoned traveler, especially to Israel, Dr. McGee agrees that, even today, the land is desolate and dry. I can relate to this parable. My diary from my youth proclaims my love of God. So the soil was fertile. But, as I matured I strayed away from God's plan for my life. Then, my hedge was temporarily removed and I suffered many years of depression. I wouldn't admit to total spiritual apostosy but I, too, was guilty of religious formalism. This is the subject of Isa. 1:10-17 as we return to chapter one. The people are formally charged. Their worship was meaningless: When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you. Doesn't that "smell" of worship today? Prophecy, we have learned, has future implications. Today's affirmation: God walks with me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: I am pleased to inform you that in the near future this website will assume a global role. It will be featured on such renowned search engines as GOOGLE. It will take a little time to get it up and running as it did for this first phase. Once things have sprouted, I will inform you of the queries to ask in order to assess this website. So, now the information featured here will be available to many others. And, I will be able to determine the "hits" I receive. Please pray for its success and thanks for your support.

 

Submitted Wednesday, March 10, 2010

 

As I study Isaiah it becomes clear that the prophecy is as relevant today as it was during his day. When I read it and study along with Dr. McGee, my inspired discernment tells me that I must examine the predictions  with different periods of time in mind. Some are to be fufilled immediately, as that is the chief reason for Isaiah's proprophetic utterances. He is speaking to Judah. And then others will occur during the time of the Messiah. Yet, present day society is not excluded. Nor a time beyond that. Now, the term "in that day" means different things and is open to interpretation. It has already been mentioned that it is not the same as "The Lord's Day." I admittedly am as much a student as those reading this website and as I continue to study God's Words the light will become brighter and brighter for me as well. Additionally, there are many who consider us to be living during the "great tribulation." Some term it "the last days." He points to Judah's many sins. The sin of religious formalism was previously mentioned. The last to be referenced in this section of chapter one was the sin of injustice. Today we will begin with the sin of idolatry as found at Isa. 2:6-9. It reads, You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. My friends, this may seem far removed from today's society but it is not. There are many who engage in such practices. They were condemned then, and they are also against God's laws when practiced today. Verses 10-18 discusses the sin of pride. This references man's attempt to rule himself and others, while leaving God out of the formula. It ends with: The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled;  the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear. Again, we see the phrase "in that day." Of course, Judah has obviously been found guilty in God's court, but what about our society? Dr. McGee relates pride to that in government, military, commerce, art and false religion. How about you, my friends, are you guilty of some of these same accusations? Where do you fit in prophetic utterances? Today's affirmation comes from Pastors Mike, Dave and Lee, as well as the entire staff at the church of my choice. We are being instructed in how to achieve financial peace. I will not live beyond my means. I will destroy my credit cards. I will live within the confines of a written budget. I will make an effort to get out of debt. I am worth it. Dave Ramsey wrote about an old adage he particulary liked in his book, FINANCIAL PEACE REVISITED. Measure your wealth not by the things you have, but by the things for which you would not take money. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, March 11, 2010

 

When I was a young girl, if someone did something they knew was not right, they hid the deed. But, now things are done in the open. People are proud of their indiscretions. They are doing their own things. They are living their life as they desire. They are actually proud of themselves. They are executed in the hallways of homes, churches and even the white house. Men and women are choosing same sex unions contrary to God's laws. And leaders are living together without the benefit of a marriage contract. Most produce offspring. Now, I know I just released an atomic bomb when I boldly made these assertions. Many won't like it. Neither did the people of Judah to whom Isaiah prophesied. But, it didn't make it any less true. In this division we will feature two short submissions. But they are powerful. Isa. 3:8-15 reveals the sins of the leaders. It reads, Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling: their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves. It continues, Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done. Then he addresses the youth and goes as far as to condemn the fact that women rule over them. This could be referencing homosexuality. The last stanza reads, The Lord takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people. The Lord enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people... Next, women are targeted in 3:16-4:1 and 32:8-11. It reads, The Lord says "The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make thier scalps bald." Women who consider themselves liberated will fume at this. And others will say it was a cultural thing and a sign of the times in which it was written. The verses also include: Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of beauty, branding. Dr. McGee considers women's dress to reflect the nation. He, to my delight, thinks women should dress stylishly but he, as I, condemn extremes. I think that often women are assuming roles that are best performed by men. Not that men are smarter but that women are constructed differently and respond to stress differently. You will notice the rise in heart attacks among women. There is much to be said on this subject and I know there will be grumbling resulting from this statement. There are some who think women should not preach from the pulpit. Since I believe every Christian is a minister (servant), then the "jury", as far as I am concerned, is out on this one. Jesus treated women with respect and often placed them in a privileged position. Reference the Samaritan woman at the well to whom he revealed that he was the Messiah. Women are strong. Women are smart. And there are many roles women can assume besides that of a kitchen maid. But, because of our inherited physical weakness, we must be careful of the responsibilities accepted. Today's affirmation: I may be guilty of some of the same things as the people of Judah. I may be gay. But, I am still a child of God. He wants me back. I may be a woman, but God  placed me here for a purpose. And, a very important one at that. I will not become perturbed when I hear the truth. The truth will set me free. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, March 12, 2010

 

Many in my circle like to reflect upon the past. To the extreme. They revel in talking about old boy or girl friends, school mates and what happened when they were young. And, when kept in check, there is nothing wrong with that. For he who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it. I take the high road. I remember the past but am not consumed by it. My reference to the past is, more often than not, limited to the lessons it taught me. As we study Isaiah's prophecy it is wise to employ this same methodology. The prophetic utterance, for the most part, is about how God punishes his people. Judah does eventually end up in Babylon. This happened to them because of their past. And Isaiah points out the deeds that caused their damnation. Starting in Isa. 5:8-10 we begin with the first of the Woes pronounced upon Judah. The first is that of greed. It speaks about how the little man was squeezed out resulting from the excessive expansion of the rich. It reads, Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. It continues, "Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants..." Albeit the prophecy is directed to Judah, as has been mentioned, we cannot deny these same occurances today. Sin of revelry is considered the second Woe. Excessive drinking is mentioned. In 5:11 it states: Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. ...but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, nor respect for the work of his hands. Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding... Drunkedness and drug abuse, says Dr. McGee, deadens spirituality. Then, the sin of arrogance is included. The third Woe, however, is the sin of rationalization. My friends, I fear many are guilty of this including myself. 'Oh, God will understand.' Yes, He does, but He is also a God of judgment as we are seeing here. 5:18-21 tells us: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.. In other words, woe to those who shut their eyes to their sins. That encompasses the fourth Woe. And the fifth: Woe to those who are wise in thier own eyes and cleaver in their own sight. The sixth Woe at 5:22 is that of injustice:...who acquit the guilty for bribe but deny justice to the innocent. Continue reading Isa. 5:24-30 for important revelation about God's anger. We cannot read this and not relate it to the present. Yes, it happened in the past, but doesn't the past affect the future? Today's affirmation comes from an Irish Blessing: MAY GOD GRANT YOU ALWAYS...A sunbeam to warm you, A moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you, Faithful friends near you_And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted March 13, 2010

 

My day usually begins early albeit I am retired. I wonder how I ever had time to work. I find my way to the den and curl up on my "husband's" chair from which he watches television. Because of my responsibilities I have been meandering in that direction later and later. Once I arrived today, with java in hand, I noticed the sunlight filtering through the blinds. Today is the beginning of a special one for me. I usually avoid referencing holidays, and other special days. But not this time. I will be baptized by total immersion_again. I was once a member of a "church" that did not believe in the Holy Trinity. Since I now profess to, I had to submit to baptism for a second time. As I curled up in the chair, I started to hum lyrics I could remember from the song, I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW. By now you realize that I reside in a town with warm temperatures. So, I wasn't seriously dreading the dip into the inlet. The editor of THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER reveals additional verses from chapter one of Isaiah. Isa. 1:27-31 relates the punishment for Judah's lack of repentance. The second verse references "sacred oaks" which is the same as idolatry. In Isa. 2:19-21 it begins with a verse that is also found in Revelation, written by John: Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground. The phrase "in that day" appears again. 2:22-3:7 admonishes them to stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. My friends, we are only one breath away from death. Can you trust your life to another man who also is one breath away from death? Dr. McGee describes this book as one of grace and government and, so far, it has proven to be just that. This segment ends with a prophecy found at Isa. 2:1-5. I will express that which I understand. In the second verse it reads, They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. This will occur when Jesus has established his kingdom. Presently, the United Nation has attempted this feat with little success. During the Great Tribulation the opposite will take place. This appears to be prophetic word beyond the days of Isaiah. Today's affirmation is lengthy but one my heart tells me to share. As mentioned earlier, I will direct you to  the lyrics from I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW BY JOHNNY NASH. I sang these words often during my twenty year ordeal with depression. Use your favorite search engine to assess the lyrics. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

Submitted Sunday, March 14, 2010

 

On Saturdays my husband watches western movies on television. No matter that he has seen them before. He watches them over and over. Westerns remind me of my youth. They were about as violent as television got in those days. Yes, there was some but it was enacted in such a way that we knew it was a SHOOT EM UP COWBOY SCENE. It lacked the gore featured today wherein blood oozes from the temples of the victims, complete with the vacant stares of the dead. Along with this genre of movies came the cliche, MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH. Well, in today's segment that is what seems to be happening. Prophecies from Isaiah have been provided. Now, we are going to flash back to the political upheaval that still exists. Damnation, though imminent has not taken place. So, it is businesss as usual. Let us focus on Israel. As we do so the book of kings is surfacing again. Since we are giving an historically accurate perspective it should not surprise you that we will re-visit this account. At 2Kgs, 15:19-20 it tells us, Then Pul king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom. Pul is also known as Tiglath-Pileser. Israel is just postponing the inevitable. And so are some of us, my friends. When we go in a direction that does not please the Lord, we are postponing our damnation. You may resent some of the things I write on this website, but I challenge you to find it inaccurate. Menahem died. (2Kgs. 15:21-22) Scripture tells us that Pekahiah, his son, succeeded him as king. At this time in Judah Azariah was in his fiftieth year of rulership. Pekahiah ruled two years. He was assassinated by one of his chief officers, Pekah. Pekah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Let us pan the camera over to Judah. Uzziah, the leprous king, died. 2Kgs, 15:7,32,33 and 2Chron,. 26:23; 27:1,8 tell us that Jotham succeeded him: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord. Notice, my friends, that the leprous king, Uzziah, was a good king. It was one thing that caused his downfall. He disobeyed God's law and went into the temple to light incense. My friends, that is a warning to all of us_including me. We may have a good heart and may do wonderful works for the Lord. But, it may be one thing that causes our downfall. Think about it; I have. That is why we must always pray for forgiveness. None of us have reached perfection. Today's affirmation: Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake. Victor Hugo,( distributed by GUIDEPOSTS FOUNDATION) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

 

Submitted Monday, March 15, 2010

 

I suppose many of you are wondering how I got involved with this calling. In some ways, it is obvious. I have BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT. Were it not for the Lord and some supportive friends, I would never have emerged from those dark days of depression. I am well now. I am happy. And, I want to help others who have not arrived at that point in their lives. I was corresponding secretary for my sorority. That role blossomed into that of caretaker. You name it, I did it. If a soror sneezed her sisters knew of it. But, somehow I received another commission. This one from God. Now, I am a sinner in spite of my constant prayers and good deeds. We are all sinners. But, I felt the Lord was leading me in another direction. Although it hurt to depart from the responsibilities I accepted when I became an officer of my beloved sisterhood, I considered my new calling to be more important. I knew that I wanted to do something for the Lord. I envisioned executing it through cyberspace. Perhaps a bible study, I pondered. That, I thought, would be so blase. I prayed about it and discussed it with my husband who is short on book knowledge but long on common sense. Together we decided to feature bible lessons with a twist. That is, weave prayers tailor-made for the depressed within the short lessons. I felt strongly that knowing God's Words would be helpful. I also wanted to stress the importance of receiving care from the mental health community. So, this website was born. Today I will feature one chapter: Isa. 6:1-13. But, it is important as it is here where Isaiah's commission is given. Now, don't think I am putting myself on the same level as this great prophet. However, as Christians, we are given missions as well. This chapter seems to be in the wrong location. Dr. McGee points out that it appears as if it should be the first one. However, Isaiah received his commission in the year that King Uzziah died. And that is why it is presented at this time. Uzziah was a great king who spear headed a great administration. Judah was blessed. They have never experienced that kind of blessing since that day_including contemporary times. Isaiah saw a vision in the temple. The first verse reveals, In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings...And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. Isaiah cried, "Woe to me!" "I am  ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." My friends, I feel that way. I have unclean lips. Of course, I don't swear, but sometimes I say things I shouldn't and ignore the things I should. Here isaiah is confessing. It is a reaction to the presence of God. Chapter Six continues: Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. Dr. McGee thinks this altar references the death of Christ and the fact that he cleansed us. Scripture continues, With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." Continuing, Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I Send me!" He said, "Go and tell this people: "Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Dr. McGee points out that God is not causing these things to happen but is bringing out the character that exists. My friends, you may find yourselves in this situation. God didn't abandon you. You alone sinned. As I speak to you, I also speak to myself. For scripture warns us to be careful that, while we admonish others, that we ourselves don't fall. Today's affirmation is a simple one: I will bloom where I am planted. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, March 16, 2010

 

I sit in the same seat at church each Sunday, and even beyond that. When I attend other meetings I engage in the same behavior. Some at my church joke about it and say 'oh, I see you are sitting in the same pew today.' Well, my church doesn't have pews but you might think so. I roost in front of a large family with whom I have bonded. Karen has a family of several sons and now one of them seems to be courting a young lady from the church. Karen knows I sit there and I know she sits behind me. She is the first to know when I need a haircut. Most of her sons have biblical names. Though Micah isn't one of them, I was acquainted with a family at a former house of worship who also was the mother of sons given biblical names. And one of them was named Micah. I like the name Micah and it is gaining in popularity. Today's submission is from the prophecies of Micah. Now, how did that happen? After all Isaiah has sixty-six books and we have only covered a few. Do I really have to remind you of the chronological arrangement of the bible I am using? What many bible students don't realize is that prophets had contemporaries. There is more than one senator in the House of Senate, isn't there? They each represent a different judicial area and they have similar messages_though worded a bit differently. Also, some lived during different presidential administrations. Some have served several heads of state, so to speak_depending upon their longevity. Micah was Isaiah's contemporary, and perhaps friend. Their messages were similar as with contemporary senators. When you scan some bibles you will find the prophets arranged differently. Most of you are accoustomed to this arrangement. But it is not historically accurate. It is, however, a comfortable one.  Micah is said to be younger than Isaiah. He was born in Morsheth, about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem. I have found a little discrepancy regarding to whom his prophecies were primarily aimed. Scholars agree that Amos spoke to the people of the north and some think Micah warned the people of Judah. And others say he focused on both. He had a hard message of judgment but a tender heart, says Dr. McGee. The book is, according to F. LaGard Smith, editor of the bible I reference, divided into three discourses. And it has seven chapters, qualifying it as a "little" book, and Micah as  minor. As we study these prophets we find that the messages they proclaimed made them anything but minor. The next submission will feature the first discourse declaring future judgment for past sins. Many consider the God of the Old Testament to be cruel. He isn't. He demonstrates his ability to judge, that much is true. But we can also observe His willingness to forgive and forewarn. In fact, according to Dr. McGee, it isn't until the Messiah arrives that the concept of hell appears. So, that blows the "cruel God of the Old Testament" theory out of the water. Today's affirmation: (sent throught cyberspace) Maybe God wants me to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one so that when I finally meet the right person, I will know how to be grateful for that gift. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, March 17, 2010

 

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That is the way it was done during the time in which Micah prophesied and things haven't changed much. The first discourse spoken by Micah begins with the second verse and reveals the judgment against Israel. It begins, Hear, O peoples, all of  you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovreign Lord may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. Micah deals with human government, then and now. Dr. McGee reveals that, traditionally, government lies in the hands of Godless men who are long on charisma and short on character. Those are stunning words. He adds: God lets evil run its course. The second stanza speaks of earthquakes: The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope. Beautiful figurative language. Earthquakes often precede judgment. It continues, All this is because of Jacob's transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel. Then it addresses their sins. What is Jacob's transgression? Is it not Samaria. Samaria was the capital of Israel and it was the site of the ivory tower erected by Ahab and Jezebel. It was built of ivory and archaeologists have found artifacts at the location constructed of the material. Perhaps that is where we get the term, "ivory tower." Then it inquires of Judah. What is Judah's high place? Is it not Jerusalem? In other words, they also have been engaged in idolatry. The first chapter continues with verses about Judah. Verses 8-16 says, For her wound is incurable. Then it finishes by mentioning other surrounding towns. These locations have been lost in antiquity. Only ruins remain. One of them mentioned, Moresheth Gath, is the hometown of Micah and another noteworthy one is Adullam where King David hid from King Saul: I will bring a conqueror against you who live in Maresheth. He who is the glory of Israel will come to Adullam. It tells how the children were taken by the Assyrians first. They were known for their cruelty: Shave your heads in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourselves as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile. Next, specific sins are mentioned. The first verse of chapter two deals with the sin of covetousness. Dr. McGee relates human government of contemporary times to this period. Verses one and two say, Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! Men go to sleep with their plans and awaken to carry them out. Referencing the poor: They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance. With foreclosure at an all-time high, we can see this in action. Greed is the subject of verses three through five. Dr. McGee speaks of our nation. Albeit he has deceased and he referenced an earlier time period, little has changed. Greed, pride and Godlessness are still prevalent in today's society. "I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity. Most of us will secretly agree that America is losing its luster. We are lagging behind in many areas in which we took the lead. Even with Israel's return to the land, Dr. McGee doesn't think prophecy is yet being fulfilled. Many may disagree with this. The desire for false prophets is revealed in verses six through eleven. They wanted their ears tickled. My friends, this is happening in today's society. Are you among them? Do you live in an ivory tower? Are  you protected by wealth? Are you surrounded by the trappings of a good life? Yet, are you miserable? Come down from the facade of an ivory tower and admit your unhappiness. Do you not want to hear the truth? The last verse says, If a liar and deceiver comes and says, 'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' he would be just the prophet for this people. This, of course, is sarcasm but it drives home the point that they wanted to hear what pleased them. The first discourse ends with a promise for the future. Deliverance is promised. "I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring  them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in his pasture; the place will throng with people. There has always been a remnant and there will always be one. The next submission will feature the Second Discourse. Today's affirmation (from an e-mail) When the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times I look so long at the closed door that I don't see the  one which has been opened for me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, March 18, 2010

 

When I was a young journalist, I learned to type my stories from my head rather than a written document. It was a necessity. You had to do so in order to meet deadlines. While I have no deadline with this website, I try to post the entries in a timely fashion. So, I never write down what I plan to discuss. I do, however, engage in research. Especially with the prophecies. And most of what we will study for awhile will be such. I read somewhere that it is advisable to consult a teacher you trust to help you understand and make sense of the scriptures. That I am doing with the aid of Dr. J. Vernon McGee. I am indebted to the executive pastor at my church, Pastor Mike, for having located a website, BLUE LETTER BIBLE. ORG to assist me. In order to understand the prophetic word, one must study it verse by verse. That is how Pastor Mike teaches the congregation on Sunday mornings. So, that comes naturally for me. It takes a lot of time in order to do it. But, if you don't, you will not comprehend the meaning in its entirety. Sometimes, I ponder, 'well, why don't you just refer them directly to Dr. McGee and be done with it.' Probably for the same reason that Pastor Mike doesn't do that. First, it takes a lot of time. One morning it took me four hours of research before presenting the submissions. I quickly learned to divide the presentations into smaller segments. I attempt to begin with a spicy introduction and inject comments directed towards my friends, the depressed and downtrodden. You will not find that if you did the research. And, it would take a long time. Something in short supply for us all. Simply because I present information for you does not eliminate the need for independent study. However, it will suffice for those who haven't cultivated the need nor have the time to do so. So, the short of it is, I am aware of a certain dependence upon Dr. McGee. However, I challenge you to find even the most seasoned ministers who preach prophecy. Therefore, one as untrained as myself, most definitely needs  help. Thank you so much, Dr. McGee. As I present the material and the commentaries, I am always aware of a quote from the New Testament, found at Luke 6:41. I have it in my bathroom: WHY DO YOU SEE THE SPECK IN YOUR NEIGHBOR'S EYE, BUT DO NOT NOTICE THE LOG IN YOUR OWN EYE? With that in mind, I will continue to do what I know best. Pray for discernment. A portion of the second discourse will be presented in this section, Micah 3:1-12. First, the leaders are rebuked. In verse one, the rulers are advised to listen. In some bibles the word "princes" is used. "Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel. Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil..." It is criticizing them because they were once rulers themselves and they should know better. Isn't this true of our leaders today? We need leaders with character. It doesn't matter the political party nor ethnicity. We need an administration with few skeletons in their closet. 1-4 continues, Then they will cry out to the Lord, but he will not answer them. At that time he will  hide his face from them because of the evil they have done. Simply because a leader is clever and has been educated at the most prestigious schools, does not mean that he/she is not evil. Micah 3:5-7 rebukes the false prophets. "As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim 'peace' if he does not, they  prepare to wage war against him. In other words, they want their ears tickled. Then this is what will happen to them: Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets and the day will go dark for them. Dr. McGee says that the occult sprouts at many of our universities where enlightenment should take place. I concur. Universities are hotbeds for Satanic worship. At 3:8 Micah says, But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. And chapter three ends with condemnation for them both_rulers and prophets. Briefly, it identifies greed as a form of idolatry and the catalyst behind the sins of both groups. Please read Micah 3:9-12 later. Today's affirmation: (from e-mail) I will not expect love in return; I will just wait for it to grow in their heart but if it doesn't, be content it grew in mine. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, March 19, 2010

 

Before I drift off to sleep at night, I often think about how I will introduce the entry for the next day. The phrase "intestinal fortitude" came to mind. In order to tackle prophecy you must have "guts." Especially when you are not a theologian. But, then, I suppose it took courage to be a prophet also. Rather than elevating myself to their level, I am humbled by their willingness to follow God's directions. And, in my small way I am accepting a calling to study the bible in its entirety with you. It is no small feat. As I am familiar with God's Word, some of it is less challenging than others. Not only must I understand the prophetic word, but I must be able to interpret my teacher of choice's explanation. To a degree, it's like translating a foreign language. You may have heard a few words before, but used them mechanically. For this submission we will embark upon the latter half of the second discourse uttered by Micah. The fourth chapter begins with the phrase, "in the last days." Dr. McGee equates it to the Great Tribulation and explains that the War of Armageddon will come at its termination. The second coming of Christ will occur after that, followed by the Thousand Year Reign. He understands the bible to say that a remnant of the nation of Israel will particpate in these events, but he does not think prophecy is being fulfilled in that nation at present. We will study scripture to support these beliefs later. At this time, I would also like to say that a thorough study of the bible entails the examination of other scriptures. If you are a serious student you may want to engage in a more indepth investigation wherein you cross-reference what is available here. Micah 4:1-5 reads, In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills and peoples will stream to it. This phase of the second discourse reveals future glory. And you will find that Micah and Isaiah quoted each other. In other verses of Micah 1-5 it mentions, The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Many think that the nation of Israel has no role in the Great Tribulation but not Dr. McGee. He sites the scripture just quoted as one of his validations. But, he is quick to point out that it would be a remnant of not only from Israel but all nations. He references the church and considers only a remnant of those in attendance to be actually serving the Lord. He considers the remainder to be pseudo-Christians. Later, we see the verse which is chiseled on the building of the United Nations, that Nation will not take up sword against nation. This has yet to occur. In Micah 4:6-13 the restoration of the remnant is discussed. It, too, begins with "in that day." It continues, "I will gather the lame, I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. This is another validation that the nation of Israel will particpate in the events of the last days. What say you? In the third stanza it reads, But now many nations are gathered against you. Dr. McGee goes a little further when he says Israel will become a world focal point. Read the remainder for yourself. These verses also reference the southern kingdom's exile into Babylon. Now, we are coming to a very important prophecy wherein Micah specifies where the Messiah will be born. It is highly unlikely that this was not a revelation from God because the Davidic line had been taken into captivity. It reads, But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. The fact that the Messiah existed before his birth was a hard point for me to comprehend. But He did. And it also validates his deity. The last stanza references the fact that the Messiah will shepherd his flocks just as did David and Moses. The next sub-heading, JUDGMENT AGAINST ASSYRIA  continues to reveal the role of Israel: The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples... The last segment of the second discourse, PAGANISM TO BE DESTROYED, also begins with "in that day." Dr. McGee mentions the destruction of false religion. And, along those lines, he related how the birthday of Christ is not accurate. And neither is the calendar. He considers such celebratory customs as Santa and the like to be paganistic. Today's affirmation: As I read prophecy, I sometimes wonder about my role. I have a definite place in the matter. I must live a life that will allow me to become a remnant and not a reject. As I pursue this lifestyle, I will also find that I will overcome my illness. My problems may result from my lifestyle, which includes my refusal to get help from the mental health community. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Saturday, March 20, 2010

 

When Dr. McGee was living, his dream was to edit a bible that was arranged in historical and chronological order. My bible of choice fulfilled that vision. Dr. McGee felt that prophecy should be threaded within the historical setting in which it occurred. I did not know about his desire to accomplish such goal until later in my research of his teachings. So, had he lived long enough, he would have witnessed the works of F. LaGard Smith, the editor of the bible I reference. Is that a coincidence? I think not. When I explain the teachings of Dr. McGee it should be understood that I believe in his explanations. And, today I discovered that we are more on the same page than I imagined. Chapter six of the third discourse will be presented in this submission. After chapter seven, we will focus on the early beginnings of captivity. This makes no sense from the traditional viewpoint, but it is logical to me and it would have been to Dr. McGee. Before we embark upon that journey, let me just say that the New Testament quotes the Old Testament. That is why it is so important to study the bible in its entirety. Starting with the Old Testament. Beginning with Micah 6:1-5 we find God stating his charges against Judah. Dr. McGee teaches that these charges are not just against Judah. I must add, that my bible states that the charges are against Judah and Dr. McGee says they are against the northern tribes. The point of the matter is that he, as well as I, think that contemporary times are also targeted. The scripture begins, as it so often does in this book, with "Listen to what the Lord says."  In the second stanza, God questions his role in the behavior of the Israelites. "My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam..." My friends, have  you ever thought like this? You do everything you can for  your children and they still rebel. Further, God references Balak, king of Moab, and Balaam. Remember how he hired Balaam to curse the Israelites? Some of you, my friends, may feel cursed. Please understand that when you love God, you cannot be demonized. You may have a hard time but how can God's children be cursed whom God himself has not cursed? We continue in Micah 6:6-8. These verses are considered important ones by most theologians. Several questions are asked: With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? The last verses are most familiar. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Many ask, 'am I doing enough for the Lord?' It is only through God's power and grace that we can please Him. To attempt to do so on our own is hypocritical. Lastly, in verses 9-16 Judah's sin and punishment are exposed. This passage contrasts with the book of Amos. Micah is more sophisticated and speaks to the city. It reads, Listen! The Lord is calling to the city_and to fear your name is wisdom_ Please read the signs and punishments featured in this section. It, too, is an important passage. Today's affirmation: Live your life so that when you die, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying. (from an e-mail). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, March 21, 2010

 

Silence means consent. Or, at least that is what the adage says. Sometimes this is a good thing. In today's sermon at church, Pastor Mike spoke of meditating on God's Words. This is often done during a period of silence. I spend time alone while the rest of my family slumbers, doing just that. And I implore you to do the same. Even if the meditation follows what God has inspired me to write. What is meditation? My spiritual leader sums it as "to slow down." He likens it to a good meal. Further, in his talk about " Strengthen Your Grip" he used his fist and labeled each finger to explain how this might be accomplished. Imagine the first finger identified as hearing the Word; and subsequent ones assigned as reading the Word; then meditating on the Word, Memorizing it and the thumb was used to demonstrate the most important_applying the Word. Additionally, using his sense of humor I have come to expect, he said, "the person whose bible is falling apart is owned by someone whose life isn't." I haven't paraphrased Pastor Mike's sermons to this degree in a while, but it is appropriate for this passage. As I attempt to help others by illuminating God's Words in a palatable manner, I have been attacked by Satan. Pastor Mike said the best way to ward off Satan's attacks is to quote scripture. And, you will also be affected if you decide to continue studying the bible. I am asking for prayer so that I will remain healthy enough to complete this journey. Today we will complete the little book of Micah. Remember: good things come in small packages. Beginning with Chapter 7:1-7 we find Micah expressing grief over the message he must deliver. It reads, What misery is mine! I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard..The vineyard is Israel. And, here Judah is being referenced.  The term "vineyard" was also used by his contemporary, Isaiah. Micah continues as he reminds them of their lawlessness. Reading further, Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire_they all conspire together. The awful conditions continue to be revealed: The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchman has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion. Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words. These conditions are mentioned in the New Testament at Matt. 10:34. The same affairs prevail in contemporary society. But Dr. McGee thought that, at the time of his teaching, we continue to live in the "church age." In other words the Great Tribulation has not come. When it does come upon us it will be so intense that it will last a short time in order to assure survivors. But, are you seeing signs that it may be imminent, my friends? Words of encouragement are found at the end of 1-7: But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my savior; my God will hear me. Dr. McGee made the point that prophets often included themselves with those to whom they are preaching. And so must I. In the section, THE RENEWAL OF ISRAEL, at Micah 7:8-13 we find more positive messages, Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Later, a challenge is presented by those who will take them into captivity, the Assyrians. Obviously, Micah is addressing the northern tribes now. "Where is the Lord your God?" But, more good news is on the horizon. Scripture continues, The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries. And the stop sign is errected with the section, PRAYER AND PRAISE. Read the remainder later. I will focus on one passage quoted here that was also mentioned in other chapters of the bible. It reads, Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? Today's affirmation: Do I carry the church or does the church carry me? (Dr. McGee) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Monday, March 22, 2010

 

I am not a lexicographer nor linguist, but when I see the word "ignorance" even I can determine that the smaller one, "ignore" becomes obvious. I did take the time to engage in research. I discovered that it comes from the Hebrew word "shegagah" and means unaware and its Greek derrivation is "agnosia" meaning not the knowledge. Sometimes people sin from lack of knowledge of the will of God. However, most have the information and ignore it. Such is the case with the northern tribes and Judah. Prophets were sent to make sure they were enlightened. To no avail. We are sailing away from Micah into another port of call. At present we are embarked upon a short visit to the early beginnings of captivity for the nations. From this point, we will circumvent the historical events of the two nations while giving the prophesies of Isaiah. We will visit Kings as well as Chronicles. Much of the account will come from Isaiah, a contemporary of Micah. The introduction used by the editor of my study bible of choice says, The warnings of the the prophets that Israel would fall into Assyrian captivity are already starting to come true. It will be several more years before total collapse takes place, but the record indicates that even now, during Pekah's reign, many of the people of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh are taken captive by Tiglath-Pileser (King Pul). Pan the focus to Israel. 2Kgs. 15:29 and 1Chron. 5:23-26 reads: In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. He took Gilead and Galilee, including all the land of Naphtali, and deported the people to Assyria. The people of the half tribe of Manasseh were numerous; they settled in the land from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir (Mount Hermon). Now pan to Judah. The introduction reads: This shocking turn of events causes both Israel and Syria to fear the Assyrians. They draw together in an unusual alliance and even call upon Judah to join them. When Judah refuses to become involved, Syria and Israel turn against Judah in an effort to force her support. This strange conflict begins when Jotham is in power, and continues during the reign of his son Ahaz, who has apparently been a co-regent for nine years. 2Kgs. 15:30,31 tells how Pekah was assassinated and Hoshea became king. He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him. (2Kgs. 17:2) In the meantime, Jotham dies in Judah and Ahaz his son succeeded him as king. 2Kgs. 16:2-4 describes the character of Ahaz. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. Next time we will return to the prophesies of Isaiah. Are you with me? Today's affirmation: Sometimes I don't know what to say when I pray. I will use the acronym, ACTS. The letter "A" represents adoration. Tell the Lord how  much you admire and adore Him. The second, "C" corresponds to confession. That should be an easy one. Then "T" symbolizes thanksgiving. Lastly, "S" depicts supplication. This is your opportunity to beseech the Lord by asking for things you need in your life. By remembering the word ACTS, you will never be speechless when it comes to prayer. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, March 23, 2010

 

Whenever I reference Dr. McGee I am employing his thoughts, that is true. But, the "translation" is housed in my own interpretation. In other words, I say what he thinks but say it my way. I try to give him credit for his ideas. I, at the same time, realize that he probably referenced another as there are few introspections that originate with us. There are few things under the sun that have not been said by another, barring personal experiences and thoughts. Teachers quote other teachers. For this introduction, I am using the ideas of Dr. McGee when he cited Cromwell. Known for his bravery, Cromwell was once questioned about it. He replied that when you fear God you don't fear anyone else. I have the same thoughts. As I share my ideas and the thinking of others, I realize that I will meet with opposition. I am not bothered by it as I fear God and as has been said, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Today, we will begin a series of prophesies embedded in chapters eight through twelve. The most important will be found in chapter seven. In the next two chapters, we find that God is ready to defend Judah in spite of its wicked head of state. You have been informed about the civil war that erupted when Israel formed an alliance with Syria (also known as Aram). Isa. 7:1-3 tells of it: Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. My friends, have you ever experienced this during a panic attack? God sent a message to Ahaz and God is sending a message to you, if you would only listen. Verses 3-9 reads: Then the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field. Say to him, 'Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood_because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son Remaliah. Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted your ruin, saying, "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it." The Lord, my friends is sending you the same message: "keep calm and don't be afraid". Now, let us disect this prophetic utterance. First, Isaiah's son's name means "a remnant shall return." When God requested that Isaiah meet Ahaz at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool He is referencing the cleansing water that Jesus will provide those who listen to Him. Also, the Washerman's Field was where the people cleaned their laundry. This also alludes to the cleansing abilities of the Messiah.  Scripture continues: Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: "It will not take place, it will not happen..." In other words Syria and Israel will not win the battle against you. The Lord wanted to send wicked King Ahaz a sign of His goodwill. Ahaz refused. But, like any good parent, God decided to send it whether he liked it or not. And what a sign it was. Isa. 7:13-25 speaks of the savior. Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel." Later, in the eighth chapter, verses 1-10 the Lord told Isaiah that he would have another son and his name would be Maher-Shalal-Hash_Baz which means the Lord is against those who are against us. Isaiah was asked to write it on a large scroll and to use an ordinary pen with which to do it. After his birth, the Lord said to Isaiah that before the child can speak, the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria. In another utterance by the Lord he contrasts two bodies of water_gentle Shiloah and the turbulent Tigris and Euphrates. Read the entire passage for complete understanding. God was saying to Judah, I will spare you. My friends, that is what God wants to say to us. He asked them not to fear anyone but himself. Read verses 19-22 for another revelation. Today's affirmation: I may be in debt. I may be over my head. But I will not dismay. I will struggle to dig myself out of that hole with self-control. I will remember that the "debt" I owe to Jesus is greater. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, March 24, 2010

 

Admittedly, I pay little attention to the media. I am not especially proud of that fact, as I should be more aware of happenings in the world. If I recall correctly, there was a movie produced entitled LOST IN TRANSLATION. For this segment, I hope that my understanding of the prophecy in the ninth chapter of Isaiah is not just that_lost from my desire to interpret the ideas of Dr. McGee, along with my inspired discernment. This one is hard. We will spend most of the time with verses one through seven of chapter nine. The preface references Galilee. It was the center of Gentiles. And Jesus' base was near there in Capernaum. He was rejected in Nazareth. Any mention of the name "Jesus" is often rejected by my Hebrew friends. But, just wait until you hear the rest of my commentary. The prophecy, as has been revealed, was made during the reign of Ahaz. It is controversial. There are several schools of thought. Most think it references the first coming of Christ, especially the latter half. But, let us go back to the beginning. Following the preface it reads, The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Most expositors agree that this refers to the first coming of Christ. But later, in the third verse, they consider it to speak of his second coming. It says, You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their  oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. This last statement, says Dr. McGee, refers to the Great Tribulation. The "nation" mentioned in the third verse, he thinks, cites the nation of Israel. Is that as clear as mud? Wait until you read the explanation for the next few verses. Before we embark upon it, please be aware of God's love for Israel and His desire to have a literal king placed for them from the line of David. Now, Israelites accept this. So do Christians. But the abyss exists when we speak of the fact that His desire to accomplish this goal includes the nation of Israel in the future as well as the past. The next passages read, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Most Christians are familiar with this passage from Handels's rendition of the Messiah. And an equal number assume it relates to the birth of Christ in the manger. And the 53rd chapter does refer to his birth.  In other words, his first coming. Dr. McGee thinks differently about this passage. He considers it to be descriptive of Christ's second coming when He will be born unto the nation of Israel. The first birth was not accepted by that nation. Until that happens, there will be no peace for Israel. So, there. That will create a hornet's nest on both sides, I am sure. But, if you have been studying with me, you understand God's love for the Israelites. It shouldn't be surprising to think that 'just maybe He has not abandoned them.' Today's affirmation: When I pray, I will take time to listen for God's answer. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: I am a little late posting today's submission. In fact, I have yet to do it. But, the Lord is leading me to appeal to those who support this site for prayer. I am asking you to pray that I get a high ranking now that my web company has submitted my information to the search engines. I want it to be featured just as the Lord inspired me to write it. Stop. Pray now. It is my desire to share this website around the world.

 

Submitted Thursday, March 25, 2010

 

My identity is not relevant. I will reveal the meaning of my name. It signifies holy, blessed, joy and peace. I bring that out because my messages seem to demonstrate favoritism. I am a peaceful person. Yet, those who know me personally are cognizant of my honesty and sincerity. On occasion I must deal with controversial matter. Please realize that I love humanity. Period. If those who think I favor their rivals would only read the bible, they would realize the connections they have with them. We all flowed from the womb of Eve. We are all related. Accept it and move on. Today will be a short submission. It covers the tenth chapter. Dr. McGee describes this chapter as remarkable. He believes it has local and later implications. The theme: Assyrians are used to judge Israel. Later, God judges them. Dr. McGee considers the fifth verse as the clincher. It reads, Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath. The first through fourth verses sound very much like the philosopher, Plato. Judges represent God on earth, explains Dr. McGee. The poor and needy need justice. Programs established for them are often viewed negatively. Yes, there are many pseudo-poor who take advantage of them, but remember the Mosaic Law provided for the less fortunate. I will  request that you read the tenth chapter later. Verses twenty through twenty three begin with, In that day. Dr. McGee seems to think that the prophecy extends beyond the time of the Assyrian invasion and will terminate with the Great Tribulation. Notice the last verse of Isa. 10:24-34: He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One. If you have a problem with this, I suggest you blame Isaiah. Not me. Not Dr. McGee. Perhaps God. Today's affirmation: When I awaken in the morning, I have two choices: to have a good day or a bad one. I will choose to have a good day. (paraphrased from Dr. Norman Vincent Peale) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Friday, March 26, 2010

 

Yesterday my husband complimented me by saying, 'you have premium gas in  your tank.' It wasn't meant to be risque. He was giving accolades to me for my level of energy. For one who has suffered from depression and anxiety as long as I, it was indeed praise. Now, my friends, I realize that many of you lack the will and power to get through the day. And, right now you may have no gas in your tanks. You may function when you must, but fall into bed upon your arrival to your abodes. I can remember those days. Sleeping was the highlight of my day. My summers were spent in slumber. So were my weekends, as well as any other available time. It will pass. But, being passive about your recovery won't help. You must fight it  Today we will study the last two chapters of the prophetic set mentioned earlier, beginning with the seventh. Cited at Isa. 11:1-9 is the lineage of the the Messiah. It reads, A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. Notice it didn't mention King David. Dr. McGee thinks it is because the Savior would come as a peasant, more akin to Jesse than David. Then it reveals the seven fold spirit of His power. Scripture says, The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him_ the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord_ and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. The second stanza mentions justice for the poor of the earth again. After the Great Tribulation when Jesus comes into His kingdom, the following will be evidenced: The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. Dr. McGee thinks this will take place on the earth. I must confess my lack of enlightenment when it comes to verses 10-16. It certainly contains fodder for various interpretations. I will not attempt to explain it. Then, chapter twelve follows with praise. Dr. McGee does not think prophecy is being fulfilled in the nation of Israel at present. After all, the wailing wall remains. The final verses begin with the phrase "In that day." It appears to refer to the Millenium. Today's affirmation:  When life seems to be falling apart, imitate the birds and build another nest. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, March 27, 2010

 

Have you ever wondered if you thought more highly of yourself than you ought? I have. If you haven't, you probably do. As I continue to submit prayers and lessons from the bible, I wonder why I decided to do it. I would like to think that God planted that seed within me and called me to do this work. Well, one thing for sure it is a serious undertaking and I am not being compensated for it nor do I have ulterior motives. So, I would like to believe that I was destined to help those who continue to suffer from the disease from which I have recovered. Now, don't confuse recovery with cure. I continue to take medication and, though my visits are few, I am in contact with the mental health community. Though blessed with the gift of communicating, sometimes I don't know the definitions of words I use in my commentary. I have to use a dictionary to confirm their meanings. I simply know that they are the right ones. They "pop" into my mind. Some may say I am inspired. I would like to think so. But, I am always wary of egotism. That was the problem with the kingdoms of the northern tribes as well as Judah. They put themselves above God. They forgot. I pray that I never fail to assign my literary skills to my cognitive abilites, but remember that I am of a finite nature. I am limited to whatever God chooses for me. We will detour for a short time through the books of Kings and Chronicles. Remembering that Ahaz was on the throne in Judah, you may also recall that he was evil in the eyes of the Lord. 2Kgs. 16:5,6 explains how Judah was defeated by allies. Scripture says, Therefore the Lord his God handed him over to the king of Aram.(Syria). The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus. Continuing, He was also given into the hands of the king of Israel, who inflicted heavy casualties on him... The Israelites took captive from their kinship two hundred thousand wives, sons and daughters. They also took a great deal of plunder, which they carried back to Samaria. But when they returned from battle they were met by a prophet of the Lord named Obed. He said to them: Now listen to me! Send back your fellow countrymen you have taken as prisoners, for the Lord's fierce anger rests on  you. Scripture tells how they listened and returned their relatives. Not only did they restore them but they clothed the naked; provided others with clothes and sandals, as well as food and drink. They bound the wounds of the injured and placed the infirm onto donkeys. 2Chron. 28:16-21 expounds upon how Ahaz sought the support of Assyria; he didn't get any help even after offering him some of the things from the temple. Next time, we will return to the prophesies Isaiah gave against the nations, following a snippet of historical happenings. Today's affirmation: Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they'll love you back. ( Sentiments of the soul) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, March 28, 2010

 

Isaiah was described as a "crazy" dreamer by F. LaGard Smith, editor of my study bible of choice. At least that is what Ahaz must have believed at the time. He couldn't fathom the message regarding the coming Messiah. Nor could he imagine defeating Israel and Syria. All he had to do was trust in God. I am self-described as another "crazy" dreamer. I am experiencing my most significant vision. That is, spending time helping others who are enduring the heartache of depression. My desires are not for myself. I would, however, like to have enough money to help others. But, money may not help with my sincere wish for world peace. I fantasize about a world wherein people actually dusted off their bibles and studied them. Not just read them. I picture a world wherein those who reject the Messiah will accept the prophetic utterances that were made over 700 years before His birth and consider it plausible. I dream of world peace. I dream of racial harmony. Call me "crazy" if you desire. My friends, that is the description you may have to endure once your illness is revealed. But, please realize that those who question your sanity are probably wrestling with their own. Historically, Ahaz of Judah has gotten his nation into a pickle jar. He is at the beck and call of Assyria. He is their go-for. And, he thinks he has no choice. But, God will bring about the destruction of Assyria as well. Beginning in an unorderly fashion, we will look at Isa. 34:1-4. It speaks of judgment. It references wrath against the nations. But Isa. 14:24-27 reveals condemnation against Assyria. It states: The Lord Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand. I will crush the Assyrian in my land; on my mountains I will trample him down. His yoke will be taken from my people and his burden removed from their shoulders." Following the burden of the Assyrian comes that of the Moabites. It is cited at Isa. 15:1-9 and Isa. 16:6-14. Dr. McGee gave the background of this entirely forgotten nation. But, at one time they were a country with which to reckon. Moab goes back to the time of Lot. Moab was the child of an incestuous relationship Lot had with his daughter. Ruth was a Moabite and she was from the ancestry of the Messiah. Therefore, David was part Moabite. They were not far from Christianity. Let this be a warning to all of us. Coming close isn't good enough. The first verse reveals, Ar in Moab is ruined, destroyed in a night! The bottom line is that the Assyrians destroyed them. Their sin was pride. Chapter 16:6-14 reads, We have heard of Moab's pride-her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and her insolence_but her boasts are empty. They were so severely judged that even Isaiah sympathized with them when he said, My heart cries out over Moab. Chapter sixteen gives a timeline for their doom: This is the word the Lord has already spoken concerning Moab. But now the Lord says: "Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab's splendor and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble." Has it settled in your minds yet, my friends, that the Lord's will shall be done? Today's affirmation: It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose it, but it's also true that we don't know what we've been missing until it arrives. (sentiments of the soul). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, March 29, 2010

 

Oh boy! As we continue in Isaiah we enter into what I consider "No Man's Land." I label it as such because, according to Dr. McGee, much of what I will attempt to explain is uncharted waters by most theologians in today's churches. First, be aware of the burdens or judgments that Isaiah prophesied against eleven nations. We will begin there. The first, Babylon was condemned because of false religion and covetousness. It was the first nation to rebel against God and is mentioned in the book of Revelation as the last ditch effort to do so. Secondly, Palestine is mentioned as it turned true religion into apostosy. Next, Moab is judged because it represented a form of religion but not true worship. Fourth on the list is Damascus, signifying compromise. Fifth is Ethiopia which symbolizes mission. But, the sixth, Egypt means the world. Persia, the seventh, depicts luxury and Edom the eighth corresponds to the flesh. Then, comes Arabia and it represents war, with Jerusalem symbolizing politics. We end with Tyre bringing up the rear with its judgment for commercialism. At Isa. 17:1-14 we find the first verse reading thusly: "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins." Hailed as the oldest city (though others make the same claim), one wonders if that prophecy has been fulfilled as it still exists today. But, Dr. McGee says it could have been re-built upon or next to the ruins of the former city. When we think of Damascus, Syria comes to mind, along with the fact that they allied with the northern tribes against Judah. Dr. McGee further states that a partial promise has taken place. Additionally, he thinks Damascus will be destroyed during the Great Tribulation. At Isa. 21:11,12 Edom is addressed. It reads, Someone calls to me from Seir, (Esau lived there) "Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?" There will be light for God's people but darkness for Edom. Edom is addressed again at Isa. 34:5-17. It begins, My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. Here, Dr. McGee considers the prophecy to speak to the local situation as well as down through the centuries. He uses the phrase "weather report" to imply that judgment is coming; a storm is coming and we are to look for the signs. The oracles concerning Arabia are revealed at Isa. 21:13-17. He challenges theologians to preach from this passage. Or similar verses. So, I don't feel too badly struggling with it.  The last burden is against Tyre. Now, you may recall that the king of Tyre, Hiram, was a good friend of King David. It became necessary to reference THE GUIDEPOSTS HANDBOOK TO THE BIBLE to gain insight into this nation. Using the word Phoenicians, I discovered that they were a Semitic-speaking inhabitant of today's Lebanese coast, north of Palestine. The Phonecians were active in east Mediterranean trade from the 11th century BC onwards, operating from such cities as Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos. The name is Greek, probably meaning purple dye. They referred to themselves as Canaanites, whose descendants they were, and appear in the Old Testament as the people of Tyre, or less commonly, Sidons. The alphabet came from them.  In that vacinity was Tarshish where Jonah was assigned. Alexander the Great was said to have built a causeway in that area through rubbles from the city. Albeit it is in ruins, Dr. McGee thinks it will be re-built during the last days. Completing that scripture, it says of Tyre, At that time Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the span of life. But at the end of these seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:...At the end of seventy years,  the Lord will deal with Tyre. She will return to her hire as a prostitue and will ply  her trade with the kingdoms on the face of the earth. Yet her profit and her earnings will be set apart for the Lord; they will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go to those who live before the Lord, for abundant food and fine clothes. Next time, we will re-visit Kings and the kingdom of Ahaz and Hezekiah. Today's affirmation is from me: Humble yourselves before the Lord. This  prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, March 30, 2010

 

A few days ago Christians celebrated Palm Sunday. As mentioned earlier, I avoid referencing holidays as it can be a point of confusion when the entries are read at other times. My reluctance to do so has nothing to do with my fear of insulting my readers. I am Christian and that it is the simple matter of it all. However, I also am fearless when it comes to studying the Old Testament. Scripture from it is cited in the New Testament. Prophesies about the Messiah are found in the Old Testament. To avoid consideration of it would be akin to carving the heart from the bible. It would be as serious as not studying the New Testament. What is the point of reading the Old if you are going to ignore what prophesies have foretold hundreds of years before that were fulfilled in the New? So, putting the two together is like enjoying a good sandwich. One slice of bread just isn't good enough. During the sermon at my church on Palm Sunday, when Jesus made His trimphant entry into the Holy City, the traditional message was delivered. But, Pastor Mike didn't stop there_as was appropriate. He extended his talk into the book of Daniel. Luke 19:28-44 was used as the backdrop in the New Testament but then Daniel 9:20-27 was employed to validate what took place on Palm Sunday. Isn't it crystal clear that you can't have one without the other? I think there was a commercial to that effect. If you dare, please read the passages for yourselves and see how they complement each other. After the judgments were presented in the previous submission, we will return to the reign of Ahaz in Judah. Research it for yourself in the book of 2 Kings chapter sixteen. I will mention that Ahaz died and his righteous son, Hezekiah began sole reign. Let us stop for a while and discover Hezekiah's character. At 2Kgs. 18:3-7 and 2Chron. 29:2 the following is found: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. Today's affirmation: I may have come from a dysfunctional home. My parents may have been sinners. I may not have had positive role models. But I will do as Hezekiah. I will walk in the ways of the Lord and let Him direct my steps. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Wednesday, March 31, 2010

 

Sometimes I pray for people surreptiously. Most don't know me. That is the way I operate. Do you do things that way or do you want to be heard and seen all of the time? It is human to desire recognition; it is divine to be able to live without it. I am a sinner. I do not consider myself worthy of the nomenclature of being divine. But, I am trying to walk humbly before God. Pride goeth before a fall. It certainly did for the nations to whom Isaiah prophesied. Burdens or judgments were placed upon them. These nations were mostly neighbors of the Hebrew nation. As we have learned, God spared nothing when punishing His chosen and He used a rod against those who harmed them. We are going to discuss times that have already occurred; times that are presently taking place and times that will happen in the future. As has been our methodology, we will mention what is happening historically in order to establish a backdrop for the prophet. Ahaz has died. Thank God, was the opinion of most as he was evil. The judgments continue. Isa. 14:28-32 gives an oracle about the Philistines. Remember them? They really gave the Israelites a hard time. Geographically, they came up the coast out of Egypt, and they were there before the Israelites arrived. They received the second judgment. The first stanza references the Great Tribulation. Do not rejoice, all you Philistines; that the rod that struck you is broken; from the root of that snake will spring up a viper, its fruit will be a darting, venomous serpent. The poorest of the poor will find pasture, and the needy will lie down in safety. But your root I will destroy by famine; it will slay  your survivors. Isa. 13:1-8 speaks of the judgment against Babylon, the first world power_the golden head of the statue. Please realize that Babylon had not risen to become a great nation at the time of Isaiah's prophesying. Babylon is synonymous to Satan. That is where the tower of Babel was built. The tower was to reach to heaven and challenge God's authority. Isn't that what Satan does? Albeit Babylon was destroyed, the nation has far reaching influence. Even into the Day of the Lord. We will get into that when we reach Revelation. Again, hints about the Great Tribulation are revealed. Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man's heart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. Further, Christ is alluded to: I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare that the gold of Ophir. Isa. 13:17-22 speaks of the destruction of Babylon. See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Later, Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians' pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gommorah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there. Now, that is a done deal. Dr. McGee says that Babylon will be rebuilt. It represents confusion. Now, here comes trouble. Isa. 14:1,2 continues with a telescopic view of the burdens. It says, The Lord will have compassion  on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Aliens(Gentiles) will join them and unite with the house of Jacob. Dr. McGee doesn't think prophecy has been fulfilled in Israel yet. There is too much unrest. And it will not come to fruition until Christ reigns. Then, Isa. 14:3-11 discusses the origin of evil and its removal. Therein lies the theme. It is a combination of light and darkness. In the first stanza it reads, All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing, Even the pine trees and the cedars of Lebanon exult over you and say, "Now that you have been laid low, no woodsman comes to cut us down." This will happen after the Battle of Armageddon. Note 14:12-23 where Lucifer is discussed: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in you heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise  my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High" But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Read the remainder later, please. Today's affirmation: I will not allow pride to take me down to the pit as will Satan. I will humble myself. I do not always have to be the center of attention, the one with authority. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen.
Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, April 1, 2010

 

Don't you just "love" name droppers? How about those who have to live in the right neighborhoods; drive the right car; wear the right name brands and send their children to the right schools. There are many who validate their worth in this fashion. It doesn't take  much to make me happy and smile. God has the best of my love and such was the case with Hezekiah. I rather enjoy the interludes giving historical insight into the times in which the prophets spoke their prophetic utterances. For one thing, it lightens things up and it keeps it "real." As Isaiah continues to prophesy we are drawn back to Judah. This time with a new administration. With Hezekiah at the reigns there appears to be hope on the horizon for Judah. We are switching gears now and will feature scriptures from 2Chronicles. 2Chron. 29:3-11 reads, In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them. King Hezekiah said: "Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. It continues, This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense. Scripture continues to give details of the sacrifices. Hezekiah went a step further by extending an invitation to all Israel and Judah, inviting them to celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. Of course, some scoffed at the idea but others humbled themselves and accepted the offer. The celebration was extended to two weeks and there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 31:1 reads, When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephaim and Manasseh. The account continues in chapter 31 though verse 21. Next time we will return to Isaiah and this time he will tell us about the "last days." Today's affirmation: The nations of Israel and Judah may not be the only ones with high places where they worshipped. I may worship the home in which I live and the lifestyle accompanying it. My indebetedness may compound my illness. I  must do as Hezekiah did, I must abandon my worship of them and return to the Lord. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, April 2, 2010

 

'I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.' This was a comment I made to my physical therapist recently regarding the condition of my cervical spine. And, to a certain extent, this can be applied to today's submission. Isaiah tells of the "Last Days," amid the time of jubilant rededication spearheaded by King Hezekiah. We will focus upon 24:1-23 and 25:1-9. In the twenty-fourth chapter the earth's devastation is the subject matter. Admittedly, the more I learn of the apocalypse, the more I don't understand. I have the basics, but there are a few questions to which I don't have answers. For instance, if the earth will lay waste, as is revealed in the first verse, then where will the kingdom be established? I have heard of a "new" earth. From prior knowledge, I understand that there is to be a reign lasting for a thousand years. And the twenty fifth chapter addresses this. I invite you to test me. In other words, do your own research. There are many whose interpretations are significantly different from the ones I present. Especially when it comes to the nation of Israel. Please be aware that the theme of the Old Testament is the establishment of a kingdom. One from the line of King David. There is much confusion as to the identity of this king. I don't understand why because the same Old Testament is filled with prophecies about the Messiah. I will trust that you will read this material, if only out of curiosity. Dr. McGee terms this chapter the "little Apocalypse." I pray my comprehension will be more clear by the time we reach Revelation. This period of devastation is known as the time of tribulation, ending with the War of Armageddon. The church will be removed and the world will suffer judgment. There will be a remnant from Israel and the entire earth. The anti-christ will appear. Here is another point of confusion for me. Who is the anti-christ? I have been told that it is Satan himself and I have also been informed that it will be a political ruler. If you are as I, you may not understand everything, but as I continue to study and share, the light will illuminate. Just make sure you are on the right side. Dr. McGee references Rev. 20:4-6 for the verses I will provide in Isaiah. In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. I have learned from church that a "day" coincides with years in the prophetic word. But, Dr. McGee thinks the period of the tribulation will be brief or there will be no survivors. Perhaps this references a different time. Or perhaps it  is the War of Armageddon that will be brief. Continuing, The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously. The few verses of the next chapter, twenty-five, are presented as a song praising salvation. This will take place after the tribulation and the establishment of the the kingdom of Christ. During this time, man will turn to God and the meek will truly inherit the earth. If I have left more questions unanswered than I have answered, then all is not lost. If God didn't want us to understand these matters, why did he include the book of Revelation? The mystery is when will they occur? Hopefully, you are thinking about it. Today's affirmation: Happiness lies for those who cry, Those who hurt, Those who have searched, And those who have tried. For only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives. (sentiments of the soul). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, April 3, 2010

 

Do you recall your grade school years when the "smart" kids would wave their hands, jump up and down in their seats and scream 'I know. I know. Call on me teacher.' And the instructor would warn: 'Quiet hands!' Well, I feel like that now as I share with you an answer I confirmed to one of my queries about the Last Days. In the previous submission I revealed my state of confusion regarding the role the earth would play during the Apocalypse. I admitted understanding the basic precepts. I wasn't quite sure where the Millennium would take place. I knew Christ would reign for a thousand years. But where? After all, his kingdom will come after the War of Armageddon. What would be left of the earth? I sort of knew the answer but wasn't sure. Dr. McGee discussed it and he will again for this entry. I used  THE OXFORD DESK DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS to discover how to spell Millennium. Right there; before my very eyes was its definition. It read: the 1000-year period of Christ's prophesied reign in person on earth (Rev. 10:1-5). I was delighted. Now, next I will have to figure out if everyone will experience the Great Tribulation? Who will battle in the War of Armageddon? And how will the rapture take place? Follow me on my quest. Keep in mind that many of these questions will probably be answered in the book of Revelation. Today we will discuss Isa. 26:1-27, along with Isa. 32:1-8 and finally, ten verses of chapter 35. Beginning with the first seven verses of Isa. 26, we find praise being uttered for deliverance. What is to be studied today will be a combination of light and darkness.  The judgments end. Read Isa. 26:1-7 privately to see what will take place in the land of Judah. It is written as a song. The next few verses, 8-9 are easily comprehended. They allude to believers. Contrastively, verses 10 and 11 condemn the wicked. It reads, Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the Lord. O Lord, your hand is lifted high, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame; let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them. Continue reading, if you will, to verses 14-18. It tells of the eternal death of the wicked. In this passage the people are looking back on the tribulation. It is described in retrospect. The second stanza says, Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer, As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain so were we in your presence, O Lord. We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we gave birth to wind, We have not brought salvation to the earth; we have not given birth to people of the world. These, of course, are the wicked. Later, in verse 19 the Millennium is referenced. Dr. McGee thinks the word "dead" in the first verse signifies Israel. The destruction of the wicked is the theme in verses 20-27. Perhaps you may wish to read it. A ray of light is introduced in chapter 32 when Jesus will reign in righteousness. The last verse mentions the word "rock" which is often used when speaking of Jesus. Verses 3-8 says there will be no place for the wicked. We will end with an analysis of Isa. 35:1-10. Please read how the saved will rejoice. There will be a blessing of the body; a restoration of the earth and the restoration of God's family (Israel). It ends with, Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away. This passage further validates the fact that Jesus will be on earth during the Thousand Year Reign. Today's affirmation is a testimony from me. I didn't sleep well last night. Sinus trouble does that to me. And I  had to awaken at four in the morning. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. My mother has been living with me for awhile and has proven challenging at times. I was anticipating her return home. But the house to which she was to move was not quite ready. I dipped into a little slump. Sleep deprived and in a rotten mood. Not quite a happy camper, wouldn't you agree? We had arrived at the new abode at six for an early morning delivery of the furniture. Well, the 7-11 delivery time evolved into 11-1. I was livid. I purchased a few things for the house while anticipating the delivery men. Suddenly, I knew I was "saturated." I had to get out of there. I left abruptly and returned to the sanctity of my house. I felt anxious and depressed. I decided to do something about it. I did my research for this submission. I made an attitude adjustment and returned to stability. So, you see, we all have those days. It's what you do about them that matters. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

EDITOR'S SPECIAL NOTE: I grew up during the era when corporal punishment was administered in schools. You did something wrong and you got paddled. At school and later in the home. They called it an attitude adjustment. What they adjusted was your bottom. Well, I needed my attitude towards the Hebrew nation changed. And so do many of  you. I grew up being told that the "Jews" killed Christ. I didn't dislike them as a race as I was aware of their compassion towards the downtrodden. I hated what they did. But, I was told a part of the story. I wasn't versed in the Old Testament. The New Testament was crammed down my throat. I had heard a few stories, but didn't know the history of God's love for them. Albeit I had a Hebrew friend, I would always look at him cock-eyed while secretly condemning him. God formed a partnership with Abraham a long time ago. My Hebrew friends are very much aware of it. This is where it all began_to a certain extent. God had plans for His friends. Yes, he even called Abraham his friend. Few were addressed as such. Moses comes to mind. There was so much unrest among His people. But, that's not news as the Hebrew nation has a history of trials and tribulations. So many people have tried to exterminate them. But, none succeeded. There was always a remnant. God disciplined them often. But it hurt Him to do so. He loved them. And I think He still does. There will be a place for the Hebrew children in the Second Coming of Christ. But, you say, they don't accept the Messiah as their king. Yes, they are stiff necked. They have a history of that. So, it won't be a simple matter to alter their beliefs. And who am I to try to convince them to do so when many have failed. I am a nobody. I was a bad girl, just like others in the bible. God chose such ones. I have no ulterior motive except to share my thoughts with you and encourage you to share the website with others. I hate notoriety, so please don't think that is my goal. I am simply doing the work of the Lord. I am inspired to do this. Gentiles, you have a partnership with your Hebrew brothers. You must understand that they were guilty of condemning Christ, that is a fact. They were given free will. They chose to do it.  But, what would have happened had they not done so? Christ had to die and return to his heavenly home in order to prepare a place for all of us. I love the Hebrew nation because God loves them. They will survive. Why? Because it is the will of God. God chooses whom He wishes as friends. Am I to question God? I love humanity. I pray for peace between Israel and the Arab nations. Read your bible in order to understand the bad blood between them. But, perhaps if both nations accepted the will of God, there would be peace on earth. And God's will shall be done.

 

Submitted Sunday, April 4, 2010

 

Are you religious or do you have a relationship with God? That was the question posed by Dr. McGee while I was engaged in research of chapters 28 and 29. This will be brief. I will give you the background and leave it to you to read the verses. It begins a new section. Chapters 28-35 reveal local fulfillment but reaches into the future. This seems to be the pattern. The more intense I become in my studies, the more confident I am in making personal comments that stem from familiarity. It appears that this book is indeed a "Little Apocalypse." Dr. McGee assures us that when we arrive at Revelation, it will be the easiest book of the bible to study. It certainly isn't the place to begin but by the time you reach there, it will all fall into place. That certainly is reassuring to me as I have had anxieties over my ability to interpret Revelation. The first six verses of chapter 28 has immediate consequences. The northern tribe will be laid low. And this has implications for their brothers in the south. You will see that revealed at Isa. 29:1-4 when it speaks of Ariel, another name for Jerusalem. In other words, the city of David. Dr. McGee, in his comparison of Isaiah with Revelation, says that the people in Isaiah's day believed that the information he presented was sealed: For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, "Read this, please," he will answer, "I can't; it is sealed." Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, "Read this, please," he will answer, "I don't know how to read." That is what is said of Revelation. Rather than being sealed, let us look ahead to see what the first three verses of chapter one in Revelation reveal. It reads, The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John who testifies to everything he saw_that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Does that sound as if God doesn't want us to understand Revelation? And, the same could be said of our present focus upon the book of Isaiah. Today's affirmation: Whenever I experience panic attacks and bouts with anxiety, I will reflect upon that which invades my thoughts. Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy_meditate on these things. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, April 5, 2010

 

Pastor Mike, the Executive Pastor at my church, admonishes us to learn scriptures. And I am trying. It's hard for me as I learn from generalities to specifics. You  just can't give me step by step directions. I have to know where I am going and an overview as to how to reach my destination. And, so it is with the bible. I don't know specific verses, except for a few. But I know the scriptures as a whole. Dr. McGee said he is the same way. He says people ask him for verses where scripture can be cited and he tells them he doesn't know. I suppose he wrote them down when he was alive and still preaching. And he doesn't apologize for it. Neither do I. Both of us think that there are ministers who have learned to quote scripture but lack awareness of the bible as it unravels in its entirety. In other words, when you study God's word "eat the whole thing." Extracting scriptures and building a sermon around them can result in lack of understanding of the entire account. A verse by verse approach is much better and the chapter you are considering is best viewed in relationship with other chapters and the historical background surrounding it. I am fortunate in that my pastor works hard to achieve those goals. Albeit we are progressing through the bible, I find it necessary to provide background information and quote significant verses in order to expedite time. After all, we would like to get to the good part_Revelation. Additionally, you should assume some of the responsibilities for your learning. I shouldn't have to force feed you. This is hard work,  people! Today we will launch from the twenty-seventh chapter, verses 2-13: THE VINEYARD IS RESTORED. It begins, in that day_By now you should know that we are speaking of the Millennium.  It is presented as the third song of the kingdom. It has a joyous theme. It references Israel. One of the lines in the second stanza says, By this, then, will Jacob's guilt be atoned for. Jesus will do that for the nation of Israel. Won't you receive him, my Hebrew friends? How about you O nation of the Arab world. Israel was given a great light and light creates more responsibilities. The verses end with a paragraph. Please read it. Dr. McGee doesn't think prophecy has been fulfilled in the land of Israel at this time. I agree. Isa. 32:12-29 speaks of the BLESSINGS THAT WILL RETURN. Pay attention to the line that says, till the spirit is poured upon us from on high. Is this clear? Do I need to explain it? Who will pour that spirit from on high? Just as in Revelation, the book of Isaiah features Woes and Isa. 33:2-16 is the sixth one. Please take the time to read it. These are Isaiah's inspired words. Don't blame me nor Dr. McGee. Much of what my mentor, Dr. McGee, teaches is revolutionary. Others have read these passages but never considered them to be prophecy about the nation of Israel. I stumbled into it myself. I didn't realize what I was studying. Stay with me nation of Islam. I am praying for you as well. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

EDITOR'S MESSAGE TO THE ARAB WORLD: I visited my grandtwins last week. They were dressed for bed. They are identical twins. I must confess that I don't know them apart unless I check their bracelets. One of them wore purple pajamas. Their mother likes  a popular fairtytale. They were decked out in their PJ's bearing its name. On the front were encouraging words. Please be aware that I don't think all children's fairytales are worth reading to them. Many are shrouded in demonic images. Magic is a big one. And some go even beyond that. But I liked the message on the bedwear. This message made me think of the Arab world. I speak often of the Hebrew nation. How about the Arab nations? I must admit that I am not very familiar with your culture. But, I know what the bible says about you. I realize the risk I am taking addressing such sensitive issues. I could make many enemies. But, you know I have thought of that. I will trust in the Lord and let his will be done in my life. The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you. As I confessed, I haven't memorized many scriptures. I have a few written on index cards I would like to share with you. Isaiah 54:17 says, No weapon formed against me shall prosper. Ps. 91:10 offers these words of encouragement: No evil shall befall  you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. And, finally, Ps. 91:16 says, With long life He will satisfy me. With that backdrop, I would like to address you, from my heart. Have you forgotten your connection with Israel? Do you also claim a connection with Abraham? I understand how you must feel. Your land is always being taken away from you. You may feel like the black sheep. Believe me, I know that feeling. You are bitter and you are rebelling. I don't quite understand if you worship the same God as I. I know of  your spiritual book, the Koran. I am aware of  your acceptance of Christ as a prophet. There are some things with which we must live. God chose the Hebrew nation. Accept it. Move on. I don't understand it either at times. They have been rebellious and stiff necked. I also can relate to that. I pray for you, O Arab nation. I am a member of a minority race myself. I understand the prejudice. But, God has made his selection. Please stop rebelling against the almighty. The hatred must stop. I understand your hurt. For I have had those same feelings.  Let your true colors shine through. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Yes, my friends, the Christ you consider a prophet lives in heaven. He died for us all. Won't you re-think things. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.

 

Submitted Tuesday, April 6, 2010

 

Child, you are so hard headed. How many times must I tell you not to do that? And, yet, you still do it. I am going to beat your behind. A hard head makes a soft behind. Those were the words I heard growing up. And so it goes with the nation of Israel. I am growing weary of reporting their disobedience. And today's submission, which detours in Israel as the northern kingdom falls to Assyria, is no exception. Fast forward to today. The Israelite children continue to rebel. God has sent them messages in the Hebrew scriptures that He will place a king on the throne of David. Yet, they have not accepted God's choice. Why? Was He not specific enough? He pinpointed every detail of the birth and resurrection of the Messiah. Will you ever learn, my friends? I will reference the introduction in my bible of choice today. It reads: Despite prophetic warnings, Israel still rejects God, and the end is at hand for the northern tribes. Last-minute desperation will lead to an alliance with Egypt in an effort to stave off Assyria, but the cause is hopeless. After a three-year siege, Samaria will fall and many of the people of Israel will be led captive to Assyria. Their lands and homes will be occupied by settlers sent in from Babylonia and other Eastern countries. These new Samaritans will become a hybrid people and will develop an unusual mixed religion. The Assyrian king at the time of the siege is Shalmaneser V. Upon Shalmaneser's death, in 722 B.C., Sargon II takes credit for the capture of Israel, but the fall itself is probably accomplished in 723 B.C. There is a brief account found at 2Kgs. 17. Please read it. There is narration found at Isa. 22:15-25 that tells of a special message to just one man who had dealt treacherosly as steward of the palace during the reign of Hezekiah. You can also read that. My message to both the Hebrew and Arab worlds is this: sneak out and purchase a bible and read what has been written therein. Not your own. Try the one I reference. It can be ordered from GUIDEPOSTS INTERNATIONAL AND IS ENTITLED THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. This is known as tough love. A wake up call. Today's affirmation is from Pastor Mike at my church. He told a story of a donkey that fell into a hole in a certain village. The townspeople struggled to free the animal. To no avail. They resorted to burying the donkey alive. They threw dirt on top of the trapped ass. But he would shake the dirt from himself with each shovel full of earth. This continued. They would shovel and the ass would shake the dirt off and step up. Finally, the donkey reached the top and was freed. My friends, this is you. As you struggle to free yourselves of depression, just remember: shake it off and step up. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, April 7, 2010

 

As I write this, my spirit is vexed. I am struggling with family relationships. No, my husband and I are fine. Also, I am wondering if I am doing the right thing with my website. I am telling you this, because these are things that those chosen to do God's will must have felt. These are things with which many struggle. My friends, I am honest about my feelings so that you will understand how none of us are above experiencing difficulties in their lives. Am I depressed? No. Am I weary? Sometimes. Responsibilities in life can be stressful. And, most are beyond our control. Yet, when we trust in God we know that we shall overcome. When I don't  understand, I have a Father who can. The moment one with a history of depression demonstrates that she/he is stressed out, people immediately want to blame their emotions. I wonder if he/she is returning to their former state, they ponder. Well, friends stay focused as I am and you will be fine. Even when others doubt you. In today's submission we find Isaiah warning Judah about Egypt and Ethiopia. Desperate people do desperate things and that is exactly what is happening here. Assyria is threatening and Judah looks to other nations for help rather than God. Isaiah speaks out in judgment against the nations to whom Judah turns. Now, here's an eye-opener. God directed Isaiah to preach his warnings while naked and barefoot. Now, what would you think of such behavior? Crazy, huh? Well, that was the exact sentiment about the Messiah. When people are different and march to a different drummer, their sanity is questioned. Isaiah followed God's directions. I am doing the same thing. Yes, there are days when I am tired, but God rejuvenates me. I realize how strange my thoughts must sound. What must the people have thought of Isaiah and, of course, the Messiah. His family didn't support him. Let us look at chapters 18-20. Starting in Isa. 18:1-7 the fifth burden is given. It speaks of Ethiopia (Africa), the land beyond the river. It reads, Woe to the land of whirring wings along the river of Cush, which sends envoys by sea in papyrus boats over the water. The "whirring wings" of the first verse refers to birds.  This is not the modern nation as papyrus is scare there at present. It continues, Go, swift messengers, to a people tall and smooth-skinned, to a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech whose land is divided by rivers. Please continue reading. And, for those who lack the time to do so I will provide enough framework so that the message will not lack meaning. Dr. McGee says God has wonderful things to say about Ethiopia. Next, the sixth burden is presented at 19:1-15. Egypt was monotheistic before becoming an idolatrous nation. Many modern Egyptians are Muslim. Egypt had a glorious civilization and the Israelites are indebted to them. Remember how Jacob moved there and survived the famine? There are other incidences wherein Egypt helped the Israelites. Read about how God would judge them. The results of it are evidenced today. They no longer have abundant supplies of papyrus, linen or fish: The waters of the river will dry up, and the riverbed will be parched and dry. The canals will stink; the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up. The reeds and rushes will wither, also the plants along the Nile, at the mouth of the river. Please continue reading about their judgment. It even mentions how the officials are nothing but fools; the wise counselors of Pharaoh give senseless advice. This resulted from their practice of marriages within families. Then, at Isa. 19:16-18 it speaks of how Judah will subjugate Egypt_in that day. Of course, this is in the future. Verses 19-22 explains how Egypt will acknowledge God_in that day. Dr. McGee asserts that Egypt will have a glorious future. Verses 23-25 includes Assyria: In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." Today's affirmation: Avenge not thyself. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, April, 8 2010

 

Yesterday I was the tortoise and life was the hare. What a difference a day made. My circumstances at home are changing. I returned to my former self. My signature smile re-surfaced and I dance around the house in my usual fashion.  I will resume tomorrow with a brief discussion of Isa. 30-31 with a stop over in Judah during the last years of Hezekiah's reign. Today's affirmation comes from the New Testament, Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I will strive for these qualities in my life. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Friday, April 9, 2010

 

Here we go again. I left Chapters 30-31 with more questions than answers. The fourth Woe is introduced. God is warning Judah not to turn to Egypt for help. But advises them to turn to Him. You would think this is a "no-brainer." It wasn't then and it isn't now. If nothing else, I gleaned this point: wait upon the Lord. Let God work it out. Turn not to materialism. To whom do you turn, my friends, when things don't go quite right? A television evangelist, a pastor, friend or mate? They all have merit, but God wants you to look to Him. Remember, man cannot direct his own steps. Let us get started and see what these two chapters teach. Chapter thirty-one begins, "Woe to the obstinate children," declares the Lord, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine,  forming an alliance but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh's protection, to Egypt's shade for refuge. But Pharaoh's protection will be to your shame, Egypt's shade will bring you disgrace..." It is very obvious that God does not want Judah to run to Egypt for help. I got that. But, what was not obvious to me was where  in the scripture the fact that Judah obeyed God is revealed. That was worth researching, as the Israelites rarely did so and only when distressed. I couldn't find supportive passages. But, apparently they did obey. There is scripture  cited in 30:15-18 that Dr. McGee considered noteworthy, however. It reads, Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Dr. McGee illuminated the fact that one must not rush prophecy. God has an eternity in which to perform His majesties. The fifth Woe is given at 31:1-3. I liked the verse that said, But the Egyptians are men and not God...  The chapter finishes when God discloses how He will punish Assyria. Let's digress for a moment. Isa. 30:19-26 divulges how God will restore the nation of Zion. Dr. McGee speaks little of this. But, I noticed the phrase "in that day" so I am lead to believe that it will occur during the Millennium. But I question that logic as it references oxen and donkeys. So, I, too am not sure of this passage. Please read it for yourselves. I will address the last years of Hezekiah later as it requires time to explain. Today's affirmation is: What kind of "games" am I playing? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, April 10, 2010

 

A few days ago, I had a blue period in my life. I wasn't DEpressed; I was REpressed. The word "repressed" just popped into my head like so many others. I always have an idea as to their meaning, but I usually consult the dictionary to confirm it. THE OXFORD DESK DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS defined it as restrain, keep under control, quell, supress, put down, hold back, subdue, discourage. I experienced many of those feelings. But, I stayed focused and had some conversations with God. I know my anti-depressants must have worked over time. All is well now, until next time. Today we will visit Judah during the last years of Hezekiah's reign. Hezekiah was a good guy. His father was not. And we will soon discover that his son was evil as well. Launching from 2Kgs.18:13 we find King Hezekiah in his fourteenth year of reigning over Judah. He has restored it to a place where God was worshipped. But this didn't "phase" Sennacherib king of Assyria. Hezekiah payed a ransom to the king of Assyria. In 2Kgs. 20:1-11 we find Hezekiah on his death bed. Isaiah warned him that death was imminent. Scripture tells us Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, "Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the Lord, the God of your father David says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.' " Hezekiah asked for a sign that the Lord would heal him. Read independently the sign the Lord sent him. Sometimes, my friends, I have wondered if I am saying the things of which the Lord approves. I have never asked for a sign, however.  At Isa. 38:9-20 Hezekiah writes prose of thanksgiving. It's worth considering. I chose these excerpts: I cried like a swift of thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens. I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!" Perhaps, my friends, you should follow in Hezekiah's footsteps. Continuing, You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. 2Chron. 32:25-26 speaks of the king of Judah's pride. God hates a prideful person. But, he repented. God loves a repentant servant. Verses 27-30 reveals the wealth that was Hezekiah's. We will vascillate between 2Chron. and 2Kgs. At 2Kgs. 20:12-19 envoys arrive from Babylon. Hezekiah showed them his riches. Though it wasn't spelled out, so to speak, it appears that pride is lifting its ugly head again in the life of the king. Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Now comes a war of words between the field commander and Hezekiah found at 2Kgs. 18:17-25 and 2Chron. 32: 9-15. He not only challenged Hezekiah but God as well. He said "Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of the other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand?  Though warned not to speak in Hebrew, the commander did so. He cautioned the people not to listen to Hezekiah. The people remained silent. Then Isaiah was consulted. At 2Kgs. 19:5-7 Isaiah predicts relief. Following Hezekiah's death his son succeeded him as king. Manasseh was twelve when he became king and ruled for fifty-five years. Under his rulership, Judah returns to paganism. In the next submission we will study Isaiah's prophecies about restoration and the Messiah. Today's affirmation: Sometimes I will behave as Hezekiah; turn my face to the wall, pray and cry. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive in, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, April 11, 2010

 

It is said of the Messiah, 'What manner of man is this?' And, not to compare with this God who came in human flesh, I would like to humbly borrow the phrase, as is so often done with scripture. Many of you may wonder  'who is this person who dares to declare that the Hebrew children will be remembered during the Second Coming of Christ? Who speaks compassionately to the Arab world? Who speaks with honesty and sincerity?' I have revealed a little about myself. Let me go further. I am female. I am neither old nor young. Rich nor poor. Unattractive nor gorgeous. I am a person of letters but one who is learning as much as I reveal about the bible. How can I edit a website while, at the same time, admit a lack of understanding of some bible truths. Why not? Would you rather a person who claims to know it all? I think not. I realize that we are traveling at a snail's pace through the bible. When it comes to prophecy, it is a deep well of information. Not only facts affecting present history, but that which extends far into the future. We will proceed at a much faster rate in time. But, this is a meal. Enjoy it. It takes time for me to do the research, and then present it in an interesting manner. Today we will study the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. For those who are wondering when we will get to the New Testament, please be aware that, to a certain extent, we are there now. And, for others dreading that progression into the New Testament, I give the same advice. They can't be divided without killing the other. There are excerpts from the introduction to the last major section of this book, that I will quote. I couldn't have said it better. So why should I attempt to do so? Sometimes my pastor does that. He says things so well that I just quote him. Now, remember that Isaiah has the same number of chapters as the bible has books. Yes, sixty-six. Yes, we still have a way to go. Isaiah is a little book of Revelation. I have informed you of such. So, it shouldn't be surprising that we will not be able to scoot through it. Plus, the historical background must be interwoven. The editor of my bible of choice says Isaiah writes these chapters as if he were viewing God's people after Jerusalem's destruction. Additionally, he said, Isaiah's prophecies serve further to help the people look forward to the coming of the Messiah and his everlasting kingdom of justice, righteousness, and salvation. The restoration messages are in an appropriate context for the messianic prophecies. Just as Israel has been a suffering servant of God, so too the Messiah will be a suffering servant for all people, including Gentiles. The introduction concludes, it continues to be a solemn warning to those who would persist in unrighteousness, but is a refreshing message of hope to all sinners willing to acknowledge their guilt and lead repentant lives in service to God. My friends, if you are guilt-ridden, acknowledge it. Ask for forgiveness and move on. It may be your guilt that is making you ill. Let's get started with chapter forty, beginning with the first two verses. It begins with the word, "comfort." No more Woes and burdens. The Messiah will be our burden bearer. Verses 3-5 references John the Baptist. He was the cousin of Jesus. He heralded the coming of the Messiah. It says, A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord' make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. John was weird. Or so many thought. He lived in the wilderness. Research it for yourself. Then verses 6-8 turns the curve. It speaks of the fragility of life. An excerpt says, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them..." Where is the comfort here? The comfort is in the gospel. Gospel means GOOD NEWS. Please continue reading the next two verses. The second half hints of the second advent of Christ. He was more than human. The bible should be consumed in its entirety and the same is true of the gospel, according to Dr. McGee. Its totality encompasses the first and second coming of the Messiah, whose human name is Jesus. The twelfth through fourteenth verses speak of God's unlimited power. As you read this independently, Dr. McGee says think of the song "How Great Thou Art." The chapter continues to speak of the futility of idolatry.  Dr. McGee, a man after my heart, comments that he abhors images of Jesus. He thinks the "picture" should be in your heart. I admit having them throughout my house. However, I have often wondered who told the artist of his likeness. Did he have light skin and silky hair? A mini science lesson is taught in verses 21-26. See if you can determine which? The verses end with these words: He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Today's affirmation: I will be silent and reflect. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: I walked over to the picture of the Messiah I have in my bedroom. I looked at how the artist thought He should be depicted. I whispered a little prayer. Then, a feeling came over me and I moved to a framed quotation positioned behind my bed. It said: GOD, GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE, THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN, AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. I went to bed and had a peaceful rest. Suddenly, I was awakened and I felt I had to post this message. Some may be insulted by my comments. Others may take them as criticism. They are not designed to be such. I am a kind person. Yes, I have a big mouth. But, am gentle, nonetheless. I often question myself as to the source of my writings. I have revealed to you that I reference Dr. G. Vernon McGee. I also am inspired by the words of my beloved pastor. It is not my intention to present radical ideas and cause trouble among the clergy. I write what I am inspired to write. Many question that, and I among them. But it is so. I hope that you are not disturbed by my submissions. They certainly are not intended to generate such feelings. I stand by them, however. They are presented from deep within the chasms of my heart. I am not bothered by what others think of me most of the time. I am concerned for your feelings. May God bless and keep you and it is my desire to be an inspiration rather than a source of agitation.

 

Monday, April 12, 2010

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: There will be a slight hiatus in my submissions as I await a response from BLUE LETTER BIBLE. ORG. regarding copyright issues.  God placed it upon my heart to research whether any such violations have occurred. I have discovered that the organization will allow you to feature it on your website without cost. So, I am hopeful that they will also allow you to use their ideas when you do not offer readers the opportunity to research information directly from them. Additionally, I am investigating copyright infringement possibilities with my bible of choice. So, everything is on hold until these concerns are resolved. If God wants this effort to continue, it will be so. However, I must protect myself. I hope you will not stop supporting this ministry. Keep checking to see if the issues have been resolved. To God be the glory. Amen.

 

UPDATE FROM EDITOR: I have been working hard to determine if my usage of the material from THE DAILY BIBLE is permitted. I have spoken with the publisher in Eugene, Oregon. And things don't look good. I am elated that I checked and will abide by their decisions. That doesn't mean I can't provide uplifting prayers from scripture. No one can stop me from quoting God's word. But, the line is drawn when I use the unique historical approach edited by F. LeGard Smith. My husband said I shouldn't abandon the ministry. Just use a different approach. Now, I am awaiting to determine whether I will be able to continue to study the prophetic word along with my prayers. Prophecy is too difficut to understand without help. So, don't give up on the website. I can read the scripture and apply it to the life of ones suffering from depression. I am not devastated by this news, however. I will do as the birds. I will build another nest. Please pray that I can continue to be of service to you and do the will of God in the process. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Amen. Amen.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: April 15, 2010

 

Thank you for your prayers. I have received a positive response from my bible of choice, THE DAILY BIBLE. Sharon Shook, Permissions Editor, has given me authority to use it. Now, I have to get the go ahead to utilize the New International Version. The King James Version does not have such restrictions but the bible is not available with the KJV text. I have considered using the bible but quoting the King James Version. The problem is I have already featured much of the material using the New International Version. Consequently, I will write Zondervan in Grand Rapids, Michigan and pray that they allow me to use it. I am aware of "fair" usage of copyrighted material, but there are limitations placed upon what is considered as such. I am hopeful. Stay tuned.

 

Submitted April 16, 2010

 

UPDATE: I really miss posting the prayers. I am trying to make you aware of each step. In the future, I will continue to use contemporary songs for inspiration, but I will refer you to your search engine of choice so that you can visit and listen to them. I think I will encounter a copyright issue if I provide the lyrics on my website. I am truly learning a lot about publishing and the copyright laws governing it. Keep visiting this website. I hope to be back in business as soon as the Lord desires. Tomorrow I will attempt to contact the Permissions Editor at Zondervan to request authority to use the New International Version. Keep praying.

 

Submitted Friday, April 17, 2010

 

Keep those prayers coming. I have just received a phone message from BLUE LETTER BIBLE regarding the use of material on their website. They, too, have given their permission for me to do so. However, they have referred me to THRU THE BIBLE RADIO INDUSTRIES where the material orginates. I will call them on Monday and fax them tomorrow. So, now there are two links to be connected. I need specific approval from the corporation that produces Dr. McGee's material and I need authority to use the New International Version of the Holy Scriptures. I would say I have completed half of the journey. 

 

SUBMITTED SUNDAY, APRIL 18, 2010

 

Greetings, my friends. I don't know the exact number, but my heart tells me you are out there and praying for this ministry. Many of you are in a similar position in that you don't know my identity. There are others who know me very well and I appreciate their not discussing the ministry with me in detail. I appreciate a pat on the back just as any other person, but the glory goes to God. I would like you to use the down time before we return to daily postings to re-cap what has been previously submitted. Some of  you may need to get caught up. I have faxed a letter to THRU THE BIBLE seeking permission to use the works of Dr. McGee. I have also sent one through the postal system, affectionately known as "snail mail." I have also written a letter requesting usage of the New International Version of the bible. We are now playing the waiting game. Yet, this is far from a "game." I am humbled by your prayers and God's help in allowing me to secure permission from a publishing house and a website. It's awesome. As I often say, 'I am a nobody.' So, it had nothing to do with me, beyond the faith I have demonstrated. Keep praying. We are half way there.

 

Submitted Monday, April 19, 2010

 

PRAISE THE LORD, ALL YOU PEOPLE. Many of you must have scarred knees from praying for this ministry. I have just received permission from Denise McCormick of Thru the Bible organization of Pasadena, California. It was crucial, for without this help I couldn't quote the interpretation of the prophetic words by Dr. McGee. I am not clueless, but I really need help as it is extremely challenging. I surmise that it is the reason many ministers avoid the subject. So, I am awaiting one more source. All of the ducks are in a row, except one. All I require, at present, is permission to use the New International Version of the bible. King James Version has no such restrictions, according to a trusted international publishing company. I am not sure of the New King James Version, however. Pray with me that Zondervan responds in a timely fashion. I am going to review what I have written and suggest you do so as well. Or, in many cases you may wish to "catch up." Did you ever think we would do it? GOD IS ABLE!

 

Submitted Friday, April 23, 2010

 

EDITORIAL UPDATE: As mentioned in earlier submissions I have received authority to continue publishing this website using several sources. The last link in the chain was Zondervan who owns copyright for the New International Version. I have just received a telephone call from that source. I was informed that they can provide such permission but their company handles the commercial aspect and that I would have to contact Biblica Inc. to seek authority to use it on a non-profit basis. They are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I am in the process of doing that. Today I spent most of the day reveiwing submissions previously posted. I think the Lord will be pleased. That is my prayer. We are almost there. Perhaps you may want to take advantage of the "down" time to review or catch up. Keep praying. I know you are doing so.

 

Submitted Monday, April 26, 2010

 

EDITOR'S UPDATE

 

Greetings, My Friends! A break in the action has just surfaced. I have been able to contact BIBLICA INC., speaking with Lee Harris, Legal Department. He has promised to e-mail me a form for me to seek authority to use the NIV translation of the bible. This is the last step. I have invited him to peruse the website. I REALLY NEED YOUR PRAYERS NOW. We have reached the end of the journey. I have done all that I can and I am leaving the rest in the hands of the Almighty. In the meanwhile, I have been reviewing all that I have written. I am anxious to post new prayers.

 

Submitted Friday, April 30, 2010

 

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Recent communication with Lee Harris of the Legal Department of BIBLICA transpired. After a foiled attempt to fax him the required permission request form, I was finally able to complete the task. I was informed that a decision will be made next week. In the meantime, I am going on an excursion with my husband in order to get some much needed rest. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY!

 

Submitted May 10, 2010

 

PRAISE BE TO GOD! Thank you for your prayers.  I have just compled the final step. Biblica, Inc. has just given me permission to use the New International Version (NIV) translation of the bible on this website. It was granted me by Lyn Arroyo, legal assistant. I will be back in the business of helping those with depression or who need an uplift in life within a day or two. All of the permissions I have been granted have been done without charge. Please spread the word. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY!

 

NOTE FROM EDITOR

 

I have just been informed that the website is availabe on GOOGLE AND YAHOO SEARCH ENGINES. There may be others. If you will assess GOOGLE AND TYPE IN UPLIFTMENT MINISTRY you will be directed to the website. It is at the top_the FIRST ENTRY. How about that? Isn't God awesome? MAKE IT A GREAT DAY!

 

Submitted Wednesday, May 12, 2010

 

My husband and I were chatting and I mentioned to him how a butterfly develops. The process is a difficult one. A small opening appears on a chrysallis or cocoon.  The exit hole is small requiring great effort. Using my favorite search engine I found the story of the butterfly. I knew a lesson could be gleaned from its struggles. Candy Lobb told the story so beautifully on her website, butterflystory.homestead.com (hosting courtesy of Kesef Webs with photos by Jon Sullivan). She spins a yarn that tells how one day someone sat and watched the struggles of the butterfly as it tried to force its body through the little hole on a chrysallis or cocoon. The little insect didn't seem to be making much progress. It appeared to have gotten as far as it could. A sympathetic observer decided to ease the travails of the butterfly by enlarging the hole with some scissors. While the little insect did emerge with little effort exerted, the wings did not develop properly. As the story goes, it never was able to fly. In her narrative Ms. Lobb says, " what the person, in sincere kindness and goodwill, did not understand was that the restricting Chrysallis and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were the One's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the chrysallis. She further states:" Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. We would never be able to fly. Can you relate, my friends? Our lesson today is extracted from the forty-second and forty-third chapters of Isaiah. We find the prophet escalating his attack upon Judah as he directly alludes to their idolatry. In the beginning of the forty-second chapter we find reference to the Messiah. Starting with verse one, Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations, He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope." It continues in verses five and seven. Then in the next two verses idolatry is mentioned. Verses fourteen through seventeen tell how the Lord cries out like a woman in childbirth. He is referencing the nation's trust in idols rather than the living God. In verses 18-22 Israel is condemned. Please read it later. Chapter forty-three, according to Dr. McGee is divided into retrospect and prospect. As the chapter begins, God makes known his role as Israel's redeemer. It reads in part: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be ablaze. Dr. McGee thinks these passages support the fact that God has not finished with the nation of Israel. Now, some of you may think that these passages reference God's past relationship with the nation. I have pondered that also. But, then he also mentions the coming of the Messiah and that has yet to take place. So, I thought, if God can speak of the redemptive abilities of the Messiah, who has yet to be born, then perhaps his reference here could very well be of the future nation of Israel.  It continues, For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your saviour; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Isaiah is writing this before the captivity of Babylon. Verses 1-7 end: Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth_everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. At Isa. 43:16-21 the editor of THE DAILY BIBLE uses the caption THE PAST IS PAST. It speaks of the prospects of Israel. It expounds: "Forget the former things; do not dwell  on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!..." Isa. 43:22-25 reads: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more..." Read further in verses 26-28. I am cognizant of the cynics who will argue that these words reference a different time and could not allude to the nation of Israel as we now know it. I am less skeptical because the history of the nation of Israel is fresh in my mind after reading the Old Testament. Keep thinking along with me as we both see the bright light that awaits us from enlightenment that comes when you study God's word. Today's affirmation: Continuing with words from Candy Lobb: I asked for Strength...And God gave me Difficulties to overcome and to strengthen me. I asked for Wisdom..And God gave me Problems to solve. I asked for prosperity...And God gave me enough Brain and Brawn to work. I asked for Courage...And God gave me Obstacles to overcome. I asked for Love...And God gave me Troubled people who were ready for help. I asked for Favors...And God gave me Opportunities. I received nothing I wanted...But I received everything I needed. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, May 13,

 

My husband and I play a game. I will say, 'I love you, honey.' And he will respond, 'I love you too.' Then, I will ask him, 'How much do you love me?' and he quips, 'How much do you think I love you?' And, each time I will stretch out my arms and say, 'this much.' It reminds me of a story Pastor Mike, the Lead Pastor at my church, shared with the congregation. He said, as a new Christian he had a poster of Christ and it related that He loved us so much that He spread his arms and died. Well, recently my husband responded differently when we engaged in our little jest. When queried about the extent of his love for me, he responded, 'How much do you want me to love you?' So, I ask you, my friends, 'How much do you want God to love you?' As we study the Hebrew Scriptures, we have discovered the extent of God's love for the Israelites. In the book of Isaiah we find that God has presented himself as the Redeemer of the little nation He called His own. Later, God would offer his son to redeem both Jews and Gentiles with his own blood shed on the cross. In this submission we will reference idolatry quite a bit but we will also reveal another redeemer who foreshadowed the Messiah and his role in the redemptive process would be prophesied by Isaiah two centuries prior to his birth. Reflect, if you will, upon the captivity of the Northern Tribes by the Assyrians and the Southern Tribes by the Babylonians. The gods of the Babylonian nation were Bel and Nebo. The name Bel is short for Beelzebub or the devil. Today's lesson will encompass three chapters, 44-46. The forty-fourth chapter speaks of the Lord's Spirit being poured out. Dr. McGee doesn't think this passage was fulfilled at Pentecost. Dr. McGee summarily says that the greatest days will unravel in the future. Verses 6-8 of chapter forty-four can be explained as a satire against idolatry. You may wonder, 'why so much time spent on this subject when it is not prevalent today?' Or is it? Sometimes it is subtle in the form of devil worship or it may raise its ugly head in the homage given material possessions. Verses 9-20 discusses the futility of idolatry. It begins, All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing?...The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. Please read the remainder later and replace the molden images with cars and jewelry and the like as you peruse it. It is in the forty-fifth chapter that Cyrus is mentioned by name. Beginning in the final verse of the forty-fourth it reads, ...who says of Jerusalem, 'it shall be inhabited,' of the towns of Judah, 'They shall be built,' and of their ruins, 'I will restore them,' who says to the watery deep, 'Be dry,' who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say to Jerusalem, 'Let it be rebuilt, and of the temple, 'Let its foundations be laid.' The forty-fifth chapter awkardly continues what was initiated in the forty-fourth: This is what the Lord says to his annointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut... I have noticed that God struggles very hard to prove himself. He uses prophecy to validate future events that happen when he says they will. God was constantly cleaning up the mess the Israelites created and He continued to do so throughout the bible. How much does God struggle to get your attention, my friends? He and I have a history together as well. The twenty-year battle with depression I experienced was all about control. His or mine? Isa. 45:9-13 challenges those who fight against God. It reads, "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' The second stanza continues,  "...It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it..." This seems to blow the theory of evolution out of the water, doesn't it? Please continue to read the remainder of the forty-fifth chapter. The last verse expounds, "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other..." That seems to overturn the tapestry of deviant worship also. The editor of THE DAILY BIBLE uses the caption: BABYLONIAN IDOLS POWERLESS to explain the forty-sixth chapter. It begins, Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The second stanza reads: "Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have up held since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Some say, 'God made a mistake by choosing Israel as His Chosen.' God doesn't make mistakes. There may be many who make it into eternity that you don't expect to be there. Make sure you are one of them. Today's affirmation: I can't dig a hole so deep that God can't rescue me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you  receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Friday, May 14, 2010

 

One Saturday morning I was ensconced in a chair at my cousin's salon. I was encouraged since we started early and I anticipated an earlier than usual departure. I grew up in a small town and it is pleasant to meet old friends at my hair stylist. As you can imagine, conversations run rampant there. My cousin struggles to keep them upbeat and shy of gossip. Well, somewhere in between, there was a discussion about religion. We all know religion and politics are taboo in such settings. The person who initiated the conversation is known for her frankness. Somehow the dialogue meandered towards ministers and their qualifications to preach. More accurately, the chatter centered around the lack of training of many of the cloth. The protagonist of the chit chat was trained at institutions of higher learning and made it known that she had little respect for pastors who didn't share her background. 'I am not interested in their lives,' she quipped. For some strange reason, I fell asleep during the chatter. When I awakened, the conversation was winding down. After I left, I thought, 'she would have loved the pharisees, and would have had little respect for the apostles.' I also wonder what she would have thought of the prophets. Not to mention Rahab. There is a segue here. The messages that the prophets shared were ignored and the men of God were not highly regarded. Even when they claimed to be the mouthpiece of God, they were not taken seriously. In Isaiah, chapter forty seven, we find an unpopular message being given regarding the fall of Babylon. Until this time, they had never been defeated. However, the name means confusion and the word babel derives from it. Remember Nimrod? He was a mighty hunter in opposition to God. In a demonstration of superiority, he built a tower that reached into the heavens. God confused the languages to put a halt to his little project. In Isa. 47:1-11 we find these words at its beginning: "Go down, sit in the dust, Virgin Daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, Daughter of the Babylonians. In other words, Babylon will fall. Dr. McGee contends that there will be a resurrection of a new Babylon, but it will rise only to be judged. Reference the book of Revelation. God explains why He allowed them to capture Judah: "...I was angry with my people and desecrated my inheritance; I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Babylon fell because of its pride. How about you, my friends, are you going to be a victim of your pride as well? Verses 12-15 speak of their practice of astrology. Please examine it, especially if you trust in such things. The last call is given the Israelites in verses 1-6 of the forty eighth chapter. Dr. McGee brings out the fact that some consider the nation of Judah to be different from that of Israel. Such does not seem to be the case in these scriptures: "Listen to this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah..." Verses 6-11 may be of interest as it explains why God speaks through prophets. At Isa. 48:12-15 God is pleading with His people. At a later time, please examine 48:16-19 to read how Isaiah pleads to the Israelites. The last verse of Isa. 48:20-22 says: "There is no peace," says the Lord, "for the wicked." Dr. McGee emphasized this line and I admonish you to absorb it into your heart and head. As we delve into Isa. forty nine, we enter into important prophetic utterings about the Messiah. He is called the suffering servant. Please read chapter forty nine in its entirety. Verses 1-4 read, Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations; Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword...He said to me, "You are my servant, I Israel, in whom I will display my splendor." But I said, "I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God." Jesus was rejected by his own people. Read further at  verses 5-7 which is captioned MESSIAH GOD'S SERVANT in the DAILY BIBLE. Dr. McGee eloquently explained that Israel was the servant of Jehovah but failed in that role, but Jesus, another servant of God, will succeed. Please peruse the section found at Isa. 49:5-7. Dr. McGee thinks this portion of the scriptures silhouettes chapter fifty three. The remaining scriptures speak favorably about the exiled nation. I would like you to use discernment and determine what you think the remaining verses of the chapter mean. Do you understand the role of the Gentiles? Today's affirmation? I realize that much of this lesson features the nations of Israel and Babylon. I must determine my role in this tapestry. What does it have to do with my depression? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, May 15, 2010

 

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5) This submission is about joy. Good news. It took me two hours to prepare for this entry. This prayer covers Isa. 50-53. I was so overwhelmed by the examination of the scriptures that a break was in order. I dashed off to my favorite fast food restaurant for a quick order from the dollar menu. Rejuvenated, I am ready to present this prayer. As was extolled at the beginning, this lesson will speak of suffering and joy_at a price. Before we launch upon the three chapters cited, I would warn you that much of that which I will interpret will be about the Messiah. Let us take a peek at Isaiah fifty three for just a moment. This is an important chapter and is referenced in the Greek Scriptures (New Testament). Turn with me now to Acts: 26-40: Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the end of the road_the desert road_that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth. The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" Then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the enuch said, "Look, here is some water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the  towns until he reached Caesarea.  I quoted that passage extensively because I wanted to show how the gospel was initiated in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Let us rewind to Isaiah fifty. It explains why the Israelites were exiled. In a word, their "sin." Verse one says : Because of your sins you were sold.. Then at verses 4-9 Dr. McGee illuminates to us the fact that the Messiah was a student of the bible during his thirty year tenure as a carpenter. He further tells us that many err in their sins of ommission rather than commission. In other words, it's what we don't do that gets us into trouble as frequently as what transpires in our life. He alludes to our failure to read the Holy Scriptures. Jesus did and He was God's Son. Later we find these words: I offered my back to those who beat me; my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting; Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Now, if you fail to equate this with the life of the Messiah you are condemning yourself. In Isa. 50:10-12 we find Jesus being considered the light of the world. Dr. McGee calls the verses encompassed in Isa. 51:1-3  the "alarm clock chapter of the bible." Read it carefully to determine the reason for his doing so. Again, Dr. McGee candidly states that much of this section of the bible is neglected. Further, he repeats that God has not set aside Israel permanently. Read chapter fifty-one for further enlightenment. The last  verses of Isaiah fifty two introduces the coming of the Messiah. He speaks of his appearance following the crucifixion. Challenge yourselves to determine if you can identify the verses referencing it. Now, we need a drrrrum roll. As we enter the fifty third chapter we find revelation about the Messiah. Please read it in its entirety. It deserves more than what can be shared here. The captions provided in THE DAILY BIBLE ARE: MESSIAH'S APPEARANCE; HIS SUFFERING FOR OUR SINS; HUMILITY OF MESSIAH'S DEATH AND TRIUMPH OF RESSURECTION. The information will be familiar to Christians as it provides the backdrop for the gospels found in the New Testament. For others, it will be a revelation. So, you see you have been reading much of what is contained in the the Greek Scriptures, some knowingly. Today's affirmation: I may not believe in Jesus. I may be anticipating another Messiah. I pray that God reveals the truth to my heart. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you  receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, May 16, 2010

 

It may appear to be dejavu with this submission. In a way it is, and in others it is a new beginning. I encouraged you to read the fifty third chapter in its entirety. I couldn't adequately present it in the space allotted me. And I hope you have or will at a later time. You may recall that Isaiah fifty three relates the coming of the Messiah. Not just His arrival, as in that of royalty, but His suffering on a cross used to punish common criminals. The last verses inclusive in this dynamic section, speak of his resurrection. I don't claim to be naive and am certainly aware that there are segments of society who neither acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah nor believe He was resurrected. After all, that is a New Testament thing. I have shared scripture from the Old Testament that differ with the common belief of some. Today, I would like to take a hiatus from the usual submission that would logically follow chapter fifty three and step into a controversial arena. That of the New Covenant. We have discussed the covenant God made with the Israelites. The death of Jesus resulted in a New and final Covenant. Today's service at my church was so touching that I shall use it as a touchstone for all of the other chapters I will relate  in the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures). This Man_ Emmanuel, Jesus, the Messiah, paid the price of sin with His blood. Blood shed on a "tree." A cross. His birth, death and ultimate life in heaven were predicted. I have proven that with the Hebrew Scripture. What does it take to convince you? It may not be in your bible but does that make it less true? After a stirring message about the passover, we partook in communion wherein we were given bread and wine that symbolized the body and blood of the Messiah. There are different points of view, even among Christians, as to whether it represents His body and blood or if it becomes them. I will allow theologians to argue that point. The message given by Pastor Mike can be found at Luke 22:1-30 and centered around what Christians call THE LAST SUPPER. There are many details that precede this sacred event. I encourage you to read about it. In a phrase: Jesus became the sacrificial lamb. Reference Exodus to refresh the events of the original Passover when the angel of death PASSED OVER the homes of the Israelites during God's final efforts to force Pharoah to let His people go. If you will recall, the first born of the land were killed. The Israelites were spared after splattering their doors with the blood of an unblemished lamb. Pastor Mike brought out a point about which I had never known. The use of the blood, applied with hysop, made the sign of the cross upon which the Savior would be killed. Jesus was aware of His imminent death in Luke 22:1-30. I have referenced this in the Old Testament. Verse 14-16 of Luke 22 says: When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment  in the kingdom of God." They had the traditional  Passover meal. Again, constraints of time, will not allow detailed description. Before partaking of the communion elements we were shown a clip of a movie that graphically portrayed Christ's death. You know the one. It dramatically showed the nails being driven into his hands and feet. Some argue it was more melodrama than anything else. Others used it to fan the fire of their Anti-Semitism. Pastor Mike asked the congregation: WILL GOD'S JUDGMENT PASS OVER YOU? That, my friends, is the question. You need not carry the burden of guilt of your ancestors. Accept what the prophets foretold in the Hebrew Testament. Get over it and go on. Today's affirmation comes from a prayer shared by Pastor Mike, the Lead Pastor at my church. It is known as THE SINNER'S PRAYER: I know I'm a sinner and deserve to pay for my own sins. But I believe You took the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross. Right now, I turn from my sins and receive You as Lord and Savior. Please forgive and save me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Monday, May 17, 2010

 

During my childhood we engaged in simple pleasures. I especially remember the summertimes. The little village that I called home was comprised of a few pioneer families. And we didn't take too kindly to strangers. I can recall barefooting it through the hot sand, hopping from one shady spot to another. They were lean months, as the tourists had escaped to cooler climates found in northern states. Many of the locals had to follow them and spend the summer working in resort areas away from their families. But they sent money back home. And we anticipated the new school clothes they brought with them upon their return. During those lean years we could always depend upon the local fruit bearing trees, such as mangoes, hickory nuts, seagrapes and guavas. 'Easy on the guavas,' my grandmother would warn. 'They will constipate you.' But we all had enough money to buy a few treats at the local stores in our neighborhood. Why, you could get the best hotdogs and hamburgers; dance to the jukebox and buy sodas and candy. I recall one such treat appropriately called NOW AND LATER. For just a few cents you could buy a gooey package of candy to eat then, share and save some for later. I didn't particulary like them but they were plentiful. This reminds me, in a crude way, of the prophet Isaiah. Some of what he uttered were meant for his day; some targeted our day, along with the time in which he lived and then others were meant for the Lord's millennial reign. Dr. McGee said much of what he says about this book is so controversial that he wishes Isaiah would cool it so that he wouldn't get in so much trouble. I echo that thought. Chapter forty four begins with a song that compares Israel to a barren wife: "Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband." Reference Sara, the wife of Abraham. Now, the millennium is alluded to in the next section: "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch  your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendents will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities." The nation of Israel has never occupied the land God intended for them, but this will take place during the thousand year reign of the Messiah. F. LaGard Smith, editor of my bible of choice labeled the next verses as ISRAEL AS GOD'S WIFE.  Dr. McGee thinks that God will own them as a woman forsaken. A portion reads: "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the Lord your Redeemer. Please take time to read the remainder of verses 4-8. At Isa. 54:9,10 it makes known the fact that God will never break the covenant with the nation of Israel. The Messiah initiated a New Covenant, but a covenant still with them. It reads: "To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Later in verses 11-17 in the final verses it reads," ...no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accusses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me... " In the next section, SPLENDOR OF RESTORATION, it begins "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters and you who have no money, come buy and eat!.." Christ is the source of that salvation. It is a global gospel, says Dr. McGee. It was offered to the nation of Israel first. Reference Peter's message at Pentecost. Salvation is offered to the world. Romans 1:16 (New Testament) says, I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentiles. Faith is a requirement, however. Isa. 55:8-13 begins: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. The remainder of the chapter is in anticipation of the thousand year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can't get around it, my friends. Jesus is the answer. It goes back to the fifty third chapter and beyond. In chapter fifty six Isaiah speaks to the nation of Israel. But it radiates to all nations. The following quote can also be found in the New Testament and references when Jesus (The Messiah) cleansed the temple of the money-hungry money changers: "...for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." We will come to a halt with verses 9-12. The spiritual leaders are condemned. As with my package of candy, this speaks to those of Isaiah's day as well as ours. In other words, NOW AND LATER. Today's affirmation: When I don't understand I have a Father who can. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Tuesday, May 18, 2010

 

I live in a modest home, but when built  I insisted upon a bay window. They are probably outdated now, but I enjoy mine. As I sit at the computer I can see my neighbor's large tree that seems to rain down flowers into my yard and drench my car parked adjacent to it. Initially, I was irate. Especially following a fresh lawn cut. For a while they seemed to slow down, but then a new batch will blossom and here they come, like pink stars falling from heaven. The grass is covered as icing on the birthday cake of my grandtwins. The girls enjoy watching them fall while competing to catch them before they parachuted to the earth. Then, I too, began to get caught up in the splendor of it all. Like splendor in the grass, to borrow a cliche. In a way, that explains the book of Isaiah. It contains unpopular messages that serve as warnings for contemporary times, but have deeper and often hidden meanings for our day and beyond. They are bothersome. They were then and modern day application as well. Isa. 57:1,2 discusses why the righteous die. And the evil are spared. You may wish to read that. It ends this way: Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. A bit morbid to some. The chapter continues with verses 3-13. It reads: But you_come here, you sons of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! Whom are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue?.. It continues to speak of idolatry...Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love... The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain." God will comfort his own, my friends. Beautiful but poignant imagery is used in the final verses of 14-21: "...But the wicked are like the tossing sea which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud." "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." The fifty eighth chapter speaks of the hypocrisy in fasting with some. The Israelites were attending the temple and fasting. Dr. McGee brings out the point that they were not commanded to fast but were to keep their feast days. They had a form of godliness but it was far from God. Isn't that true today? At Isa. 58:6-12 it relates what true fasting entails. It reads, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Dr. McGee candidly admonishes that he thinks God observes the empty religion of our time and may say 'Let's cut this out.' The chapter ends with a few verses but significant to some. It discusses the Sabbath, which means rest. With the death of the Messiah we have the "rest of redemption," according to Dr. McGee. Today's affirmation: Perhaps my illness results from my wickedness. I know that I need the help of the mental health community, but I also must clean up my spiritual act. I realize that I am as much a spiritual being as I am physical and emotional. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Wednesday, May 19, 2010

 

Before our small group discussion recently began, a member handed me a plastic bag containing something that looked odd, yet familiar. It was some mix that she had used to make an Amish recipe called FRIENDSHIP BREAD. She eased in the chair next to mine and, in her charming Southern drawl, explained what she was sharing. She passed me the batter and followed up with a recipe. She apologized for not bringing a sample of the bread. A cook I am not, beyond simple dishes. So, the thought of baking bread from scratch did not appeal to me, especially after learning it takes ten days to complete the process. After warning me not to refrigerate the concoction nor mix with metal utensils, I reluctantly accepted her act of friendship. Somehow I got involved in the process. After all, I could say, 'I made that from scratch.' For a specified time, you must mix the starter batch_in the bag if you, like me, can't locate your wooden spoon. Then, you add other ingredients and continue the daily mix. Well, the tenth day becomes the grand finale.You have to add a bunch of stuff to the original mixture. However, you must remove starter batches for friends. I made the most delicious bread. In fact, I have batches brewing awaiting their debut in a few days as delicious bread. The key to the entire process is you can't make it without a starter batch. This reminds me of many things. For the sake of simplification, we need each other in order to survive. And, most importantly, we need the sacrifice of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Before adding the agents that caused the bread to rise, it did so naturally. That is not the case with sinners. They may rise but it takes other ingredients in order to be forgiven. Today we continue with Chapter Fifty Nine of Isaiah. Again, we get the NOW AND LATER SITUATION referenced in a previous submission. Dr. McGee identified a common thread with prophets. They will speak in different tenses. He refers to it as prophetic tenses. The events to which they reference may not have transpired but the prophet may address it as if it has already taken place. Is that as clear as mud? If you vaguely understand it, it might explain how situations affect more than one time period. For instance in verses 1-15 you will notice a shift in tense from "your" and "their" to "we" and "our." The Israelites are confessing their sins. For example: in the first section it reads: Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But YOUR iniquities have separated YOU from YOUR God. Later, we see a shift in gears: THEIR thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark THEIR ways, The way of peace THEY do not know; there is no justice in THEIR paths. In the next section of Isa. 59:1-15 we read the following: So justice is from from US, and righteousness does not reach US. WE look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but WE walk in deep shadows. Later, For OUR offenses are many in YOUR sight, and OUR sins testify against US. Reference to the Redeemer is found in verses 16-20. The last verse speaks of a remnant of believers: "The redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the Lord. The editor of THE DAILY BIBLE calls this section, THE GLORY OF ZION. The first few verses speak of light that has arrived. The Messiah is called the light of the world. It reads, Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Then we turn to that period of time when Christ will reign for a thousand years. Dr. McGee interprets this section as LOVE IN LAW AND LAW IN LOVE. He says the church, at this point in history, will have gone to be with Christ. Further, he contends that prophecy is the mold into which history is poured. Many will disagree with this, but Dr. McGee interprets this section to mean nations who destroyed the Israelites will restore them. And a section of it ends with, For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. Today's affirmation: If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31-32 (KJV). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends. Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, May 20, 2010

 

While he yet lived, Pastor McGee resided in California. He describes his home as being at the foothill of two mountains. One mountain stood in front of the other. The distant one seemed only a short distance away. Being familiar with the terrain, Dr. McGee says that was not the case. At least twenty-five miles separated the two. This seemed a beautiful way to introduce, not only the three chapters featured in today's submission, but prophecy in general. Sometimes two different time periods can be considered in the subsequent verses. That is why the prophetic word can be confusing. Prophetic tense was mentioned in the last submission. And that helps to keep the reader focused. And, now you realize, if you haven't already, that only a verse may divide totally different settings. We find that to be true in Isa. 61:1-3. It reads, The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. This is familiar to students of the New Testament. I am sure there is an appropriate theological term, but as I take the simple route, I will just say that the bible often interprets itself. Reference Luke 4:16 of the Greek Scriptures (New Testament). Later, the setting shifts from Christ's first coming to his second. It speaks of the comfort He will bring following judgment. Portions read, ...and the day of vengence of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Do you recognize the inclusion of Zion? In 61:3-9 both comings of Christ are referenced. Please read it. Notice the pronoun, "I." Who is speaking? Is it Jehovah or Isaiah referring to a future time? Sometimes the context will help you. It appears to speak of the second coming of the Messiah. Dr. McGee thinks during this time, anti-Semitism will end. Verse nine: "... Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples.  All who acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed." In the next verses of chapter sixty, ten and eleven, the Messiah speaks. That is obvious. Please read it. THE DAILY BIBLE uses the caption, THE BRIDE'S NEW NAME to describe the first five verses of chapter sixty two. It says, For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The rejection of the Messiah, says Dr. McGee, is the reason for Israel's unrest. After judgment, Zion will have a new name. It expounds, But you will be called Hephzibah and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. The latter verses in Isa. 62:6-12 reference the Messiah: The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: "Say to the Daughter of Zion, See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him." They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted. The next few verses of chapter sixty three can be frightful just as is Revelation in the New Testament. In fact, Dr. McGee says many consider the Old Testament to present a God of wrath and the New Testament one of love. Revelation blows that theory out of the water. I will provide the backdrop and trust you to read verses one through six. Vengeance against the wicked is related.  It paints a morbid picture for some. It is not a comfort passage. Jesus acts alone in his judgment just as He did in his death. A simile compares the winepress with the blood spattered garment of Jesus resulting from His judgment before his second coming. But the tone shifts in verses seven through nine of chapter sixty three. It begins, I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord. That may be more to your liking. Verses 11-14 are historical in nature. And the chapter ends with a prayer. Dr. McGee illuminates the fact that when the term Israelite is used, it references the corporate nation rather than the individual. Today's affirmation: I must not fall into the trap of self-condemnation, but I must remember that for every action there is an opposite reaction. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, May 21, 2010

 

I am going to begin the last few chapters of the book of Isaiah with the concluding comments found in THE DAILY BIBLE. It reads, How anyone could ignore or reject such a powerful message is difficult to fathom. But Isaiah himself speaks of those who will refuse to hear or see. Some will reject the message because they are willfully stubborn, and others because they are caught up in material pursuits, or pleasurable diversions, or even false religious worship. Perhaps saddest of all, God's message will sometimes be hidden from the common people by the very ones who ought to bring understanding_the religious leaders. Once again Isaiah singles out these leaders for special judgment. It is quite possible that this very condemnation proves to be the death knell for Isaiah, for tradition holds that Isaiah was sawn in two by his enemies during Manasseh's reign. Dr. McGee made no mention of his fate, nor have I read of it in the scriptures. I am cognizant that I, too, may have made antagonists resulting from my bold stand. I would rather risk harm in this world than to suffer eternally. These last  three chapters may leave you reeling. Some of the information does not reverberate on virgin ears as I have been introduced to it before the revelations of Dr. McGee. I will do my best to eplain it, but I, admittedly, have many questions about the matter. Chapter sixty four is a continuation of the previous one. I will not present these chapters in detail as I must pray for more discernment regarding them. Dr. McGee says that the church will go up to meet Christ in the final days. Isaiah uses prophetic past tense in chapter sixty four. Chapter sixty four ends with, We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people. Your sacred cities have become a desert; even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation. Do you notice the shift in setting? It moves from Israel's prayer to God to that of prophecy being spoken about their destiny. Continuing, Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins... The first few verses of the sixty fifth chapter alludes to the Gentiles. Here, God is responding to the reason for his judgment upon Israel. It begins: "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. Reference Romans 10:21 of the New Testament. Please read the remainder later. Verses 8-10 speak of a remnant. Verse eight compares them to a cluster of grapes: "As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, 'Don't destroy it, there is yet some good in it, so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains, my chosen people will inherit them...." Please read the next few lines later. Verses 11, 12 speak of the unrepentant and 13-16 blessings for God's servants. NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH is the caption identifying Isa. 65:17-25. It reads." Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy..." God is speaking here. I have noticed that often quotation marks indicate the voice of God. It ends: (referencing when Christ rules)"... The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain..." Dr. McGee bluntly states: the law of the jungle will disappear. God will dwell with the meek, my friends and the meek will truly inherit the earth. Dr. McGee informs us that Israel has already experienced the Great Tribulation. And he mentions the number 144,000 found in the book of Revelation. I am aware of its connection with the twelve tribes of Israel. However, I confess; I am not sure of much else. I hope the light shines brighter as we progress through the Word. He further states that sheep will be separated from the goats. In other words, the wheat and the tares will spring up together, awaiting harvest. Today's affirmation: It is depressing to think of myself in terms of wheat and tares. I have noticed that reality can be negative. I cannot expect sunny days all of the time. If that happened there would be no flowers. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen.Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, May 22, 2010

 

Like father, like son? Not always. Such is the case in today's submission. As we screech to a halt from the book of Isaiah, we will detour into 2 Chronicles 33:10-17 and peek in on the historical occurances of the day. We have studied the life of King Hezekiah. Remember how, on his death bed, he beseeched God to lenghthen his life span. And God did so, by fifteen years. Hezekiah was a great leader. His guidance is compared to the kingship of David and Solomon. His seed, Manasseh succeeded his father and became king at the age of twelve. So, he was born during the fifteen years in which God expanded Hezekiah's life. You would think that this child would follow in his father's footsteps. But he didn't. Manasseh's fifty year rule was characterized by wickedness. He was as bad as Ahab and Jezebel. His wings were clipped, as it were, when he was hauled off to Babylon where he honestly repented. Consequently, God reestablished him on the throne in Judah. This is encouraging, my friends, for those parenting wayward children. Sometimes they will remember the days of their youth and return to God. The next submission will feature Nahum's Prophecy Against Ninevah. Today's affirmation is a scripture taken from 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres. Love never fails. But where there are propehcies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am full known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen

 

Submitted Sunday, May 23, 2010

 

Have you ever tried to find a house without knowing the address? You are often familiar with the area and may be privy to such particulars as the cars the residents who live there drive. Well, that situation explains my memorization of scripture. I may know the neighborhood but not the address. I once confessed that I was satisfied with that. But, I was in err. It seems that every devotional I read advises you to memorize scripture. And, I have tried. I have many written on index cards. I was graduated from high school as valedictorian of my class and with honors from both undergraduate and graduate programs. So, I am not without the capacity to learn. There's something about scriptures that baffle me. I have decided to go to God in prayer and beseech Him to help me. The book of Nahum is a good place to begin, as there are only three chapters. As I began to research this little book, the name Nineveh jumped off the page. Of course, I recalled, that is where God assigned Jonah. And the entire city repented. What a great revival. I was unaware of the connection the city had with Assyria. Assyria had a great army, that fact was indesputable. Equally true was their ruthlessness after capturing their enemies. Only 125 years passed since their change of heart following Jonah's visit. They mended their ways for awhile, but then reverted to their old tricks. But, this time, God lost patience with them. While Manasseh is bringing about reforms in Judah, Nahum prophesies against Judah's archenemy, Ninevah, and predicts her fall. There is little biographical information available about Naham. Even his birthplace is debatable as there were several cities known by the name he claims as his origin_he was an Elkoshite. Some consider this to be a ho-hum book, according to Dr. McGee. But it is far more, and even has lessons for contemporary times. But, that shouldn't surprise you as many prophecies touched the future. Chapter one reveals the anger of God against Assyria. Verse one says, The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. It continues, The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. God, in verses seven and eight, indicates that Nineveh has refused mercy. In verse seven: The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. To say "the Lord is good" is an axiom usually followed by "all of the time." Chapter eight ends: ...he will make an end of Ninevah; he will pursue his foes into darkness. Darkness alludes to hell. Then the next two verses reveal the conditions under which they will be captured. They will be drunk. My friends, do you mask your fears and problems with wine? Please read the next few short verses, 11-13. In verse fourteen God promises to bury Nineveh. The second chapter gives details of the fall of the mighty nation. The brutal nation. Please read it later. In it the favorite color of the Assyrians is identified. Their warriors wore scarlet. They played mind games and when the enemy would see them coming, the red would add to their fear. Neighboring nations were familiar with the brutal treatment inflicted upon their captives. So, no one would sympathize with their predicament. God blatantly declared, in 2:11-13 "I am against you." And He repeated it in the next chapter. The first four verses of Chapter three are filled with vivid imagery. Detailed description of their chariots are given to the extent that some expositors liken it to the first automobile. Dr. McGee disagrees with this and, in this case, his explanation is sufficient for me. As it is brief, you may wish to read the remainder at your leisure. Dr. McGee considers the book to be a direct warning to any nation. Nations fall. Leadership dissolves. Referencing our culture, Dr. McGee says, "our best defense is to return to God." Today's affirmation: I may not have a good friend. During times such as these, I could benefit from one. If I don't have a confidant, I could benefit from professional counseling. In fact, it is here where I may wish to begin. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, May 24, 20101

 

When most hear the word "minister" they think of a man wearing a flowing robe with bugle-shaped sleeves and a collar turned backwards. Others add to the imagery someone with letters of authenticity added to their names. Sometimes doubled as in Rev. Dr. or Most Reverend. Neither are what the Bible has in mind when the word is mentioned. In fact, quite the opposite. Every Christ Follower should be a minister_a servant. If you don't consider yourself as such, you are not obeying God's will for your life. Jesus did not wear a robe nor had degrees stamped after His name. In fact, He had no church. His sanctuary was the open market. The home of tax collectors. There is nothing wrong with attending bible studies, but unless you practice what you learn you are as a sounding brass. Some churches deem fund raisers necessary. And, I suppose, they become so since their members fail to tithe. There are many boards and committees in churches. But, until you engage in discipleship you are not a true Christ Follower. Rick Warren, a famous Christian author, uses the word "serve us" rather than "serve ice." The point of this, is there are some who fail to attend church but who engage in service to others. I have a bonus nephew who is among such ones. He has made some bad choices in life. But, now he spends most of his time scrubbing floors, assisting his grandfather with baths and other hygiencally necessary chores. He is a butler, telephone operator and cleaning service rolled into one. In fact, he resides in the cozy bungelow where my parents live. He sleeps on the couch. On Sunday mornings he can be seen accompanying my bonus father to church, a few steps from the house. When I queried him about why he doesn't attend, he gracefully responded, 'I'm not ready.' Now, I ask you, who is the follower of Christ? Certainly not the church goer, draped from head to toe in their regalia designed to impress, and who never spend a moment in service beyond the four walls of the sanctuary. Today, we are going to discuss a man who began his life engaged in wickedness. But, he later recanted. His name was Manasseh. The Bible tells us he was as wicked as Ahaz and Jezebel. He failed to follow in his father, Hezekiah's, footsteps. My bonus nephew grew up in a loving home but went astray for reasons only he can explain. We find that before Ninevah's fall, Manassah's reign will come to an end with his death. Later, his son, Amon supports idolatry just as his father had done.  Amon was assasinated but produced an offspring who reigned at the age of eight. Reference the twenty fourth chapter of Kings and chapters thirty three and thirty four of Chronicles. Josiah had a Godly character. 2Kgs. 23:26,27 reads, Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. So the Lord said, "I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, 'There shall my Name be.'" Today's affirmation: Work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord. (Col. 3:23) How can I serve others? Perhaps my problems won't seem so intense if I did so. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, May 25, 2010

 

It was dark in the room. A little girl was asleep in her bed. A man stealthily entered. The girl screamed. The man picked her up. Her mother came into the room. The man made a phone call to an accomplice. The man placed the girl in his car. He took her to a building where a light was aglow. The partner took the girl into his arms; placed her on a bed and put a knife into her stomach. This is the introduction Dr. McGee gave for the book of Zephaniah. Now, let's see what happened to the child. It turns out that the stranger was her dad. The child had been experiencing abdominal discomfort. Her father called the doctor who awaited them at the hospital. The man of medicine operated on the child. Her health got better. She received flowers and candy from her loving father when he visited her at the infirmary. Do you see the direction in which we are progressing? God is the father who performs surgery on our symbolic hearts when we are in pain. He fixes what needs repair. Oftentimes it hurts. God knows it will be painful but He does it to save our spiritual lives. We get better. This is the dark side of love. And that is what Zephaniah preaches. Dr. McGee says most ministers never preach a sermon on the little book. Congregations love to hear about God's saving grace, but not his ability to judge. The central theme of this book is the coming of the "day of the Lord." The phrase was uttered by Obadiah and Joel, and he adds that Zephaniah is the last prophet to use it. Zephaniah was a relative of Josiah, the righteous young leader of Judah. The day of the Lord encompasses several periods of time, as you may have surmised. The contemporary, when Judah is judged; the punishment of those who have oppressed God's people and the Great Judgment, when God will bring punishment against all the wicked. For this submission, the introduction will suffice.  Like the previous book, Nahum, it consists of three chapters. We will consider those next time. Today's affirmation: I will look to the weather vane. It moves in all directions. God will be with me regardless of which way the wind blows. (Dr. McGee) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, May 26, 2010

 

In my neck of the woods, summertime means hurricane season is coming more than picnics in the park. We are blessed with warm weather throughout most of the year, so a day at the beach seems ho-hum to us. The local meteorologist is hailed as somewhat of a celebrity, especially during a warning. Early on we are advised to stock up on non-perishables, batteries, bottled water, wet wipes and all of the other essentials_some not so essential if you ask me. Well, I have experienced hurricanes since childhood and have become complacent. Once I was unaware of the proximity of its location and, while routinely shopping, noticed the lack of carts, not to mention supplies. It seemed as if judgment day was imminent. The message delivered by Zephaniah was akin to this. At this point, many of you may feel as I about hurricanes. After a few seasons when we are unscathed, we get "cocky." There are three chapters featured and most of it is filled with doomsday language. And the people of Judah felt as I about hurricane season. Intermingled with local judgment upon Judah are references to the Great Tribulation and nations as a whole. Actually, I could stop here and  request you to read it for yourself as it is short. But, like warnings of a storm in the east, it is too important to overlook. The first two verses of chapter one are enclosed in quotation. That signifies that God is speaking and His Words allude to the Great Tribulation. "I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth." Then, in verses 4-13 Judah is judged. Again, the Lord utters these words: "I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem..." Basically it discusses false religion. Dr. McGee says the priests of Baal donned black regalia; therein lies the use of the color by present day worshipers of false religious practices. He further says that churches who deny the deity of Jesus are included with false religious practices. Please read the remaining chapters. Pay particular attention to the word "wail" as it notes the present day Wailing Wall in Israel. The Great Tribulation is cited again in verses 14-18. I think you get the point as to what will take place at that time. My mentor, Dr. McGee, considers pride to be the catalyst that caused the downfall of many nations, especially Judah. He identifies pride of RACE, FACE, AND GRACE. Some feel that they are God's little pet after being saved through grace, says Dr. McGee. I suppose it is discouraging to be informed of God's judgment just as much as it is to hear that a hurricane is blowing your way. But, you can prepare. It is coming when the warning signs indicate such. A little taste of the elements of nature ought to serve as notice of what will happen when judgment finally arrives. Chapter two relates judgment has already taken place on a small scale. God judges nations. Philistia is judged; to the east Moab and Ammon are judged and Ethiopia to the south, and returning to Assyria in the north. Those whose curiosities have been peeked are invited to read the details of the judgments. Chapter three begins with Judah's sins being listed. There are some who think the Lord has been unfair in His decision to judge His people. Where is the love one would expect from Him? Remember that privileges brings with it responsibilities. From every nation, there will be a remnant. The finality of chapter three ends on a happier note. Verses 18-20 begin: "The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor..." Please read the remaining verses. The church and Israel are the subject of these verses. Today's affirmation: I will remember that the dogcatcher has to be smarter than the dog. (as told me by my brother). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends: Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, May 27, 2010

 

He was melancholy. He was young and timid. He was God's cry baby. Added to that, he was insecure. That was Jeremiah. In other words, he had depression. This is the one, my friends. The  prophet from whom you can most benefit, for he was as you and I. If he were all these things, why did God choose him to deliver such a message of damnation to a nation who, at least temporarily, was at peace and experiencing a spirit of revival. Isaiah he wasn't. He was me. He was you. The Lord uses the weak people of this world to put to shame those who think they are strong. God used my bout with depression as a foundation for a ministry with those suffering from the illness. How could I reach you unless I had been there myself? I wouldn't be as effective, would I? How could I? Why do you think King David is so well known and loved? Because he had moments of weakness when he couldn't get any worse, along with periods of greatness when he couldn't get any better. He was, after all, a man after God's own heart. We are all born with distinct DNA. God knows all about us before birth. I was created to be a writer and speaker. A student of mathematics I am not. But a writer I am. It seems as if I have been talking since birth, and, according to my husband, have done so non-stop. We are about to embark upon a journey which will be more meaningful to you than any of the other prophets. Jeremiah was called the WEEPING PROPHET. He is my favorite, and he will most likely be yours. I have always loved to write, and even did so professionally for my hometown newspapers. I also taught journalism at the local high school, along with debate. But, it wasn't until I was afflicted with depression that I received my call to the ministry. God knew that I would do this. He knew it about Jeremiah. In fact, quoting the fourth and fifth verses of chapter one, He said of his cry baby: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Well, that blows the theory of being trained at a seminary as a prerequisite to ministering out of the water, doesn't it? For this submission, I will introduce this man of God. His writings are autobiographical, unlike many prophets about whom little is known. Tradition has it that he was about twenty when he received his call. Historically, righteous King Josiah was about the same age when God commissioned Jeremiah. There goes the theory that it takes age and experience to lead. Dr. McGee mentions his burning desire to present the prophets in their historically appropriate time frames. We are doing that. Jeremiah had a sensitive heart. It broke his spirit when he had to condemn his people. It is reported that he spoke with a trembling voice and had teary eyes. Do you fit this description, my friends? Today's affirmation: Lord, I can see that my weakness is not a deterrent to your using me to do Your will. It just might be my character that attracts You as it did Jeremiah. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted  Friday, May 28, 2010

 

Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The name seems insignificant except for the fact that he found the lost book of the Law of Moses during the reign of Josiah. It was his discovery that prompted the spirit of revival that emerged under the tutelage of young King Josiah. As I read that, I thought of an uncovering I made. It was the location of my childhood diary. Though estranged from the little wooden box in which it was once hidden to keep out intruders, the red and gold of its cover can still be deciphered. In the crude handwriting and spelling of a fifth grader, it tells of my love for the Creator. On January 1, 1960 I penned: Dear diary today I prayed to God for keeping me safely through this year. The next day, I wrote: Dear Diary today I thanked God all night also, though New Year's is over I still thanked God. My love for the Master was evidenced during my early childhood. The journal was filled to the brim with happy tidings. Who would think that such a jovial child would eventually succumb to chronic depression. But, then who also would think that those early skills would assist in my ministry with like minded ones. In the last submission I spoke of Jeremiah's ordination at inception. Like other prophets he was reluctant to serve. Jer. 1:6-8 reads, "Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will  rescue you," declares the Lord. Later, Jeremiah experiences two visions_one of the almond branch and another of a boiling pot. Please read them at verses 9-16. The scriptures end with "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land_against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. Can you imagine how the "weeping prophet" must have felt? He was scared. He was unsure of himself. He was a man of sorrow who had to deliver a doleful message. It broke his heart. He had to rebuke an unfaithful nation. In the second chapter, God recalls the good times he expeirenced with the nation of Israel. "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown..." In verses 4-9 God questions himself: "What fault did your fathers find in me that they strayed so far from me..? If the Almighty experienced self-doubt and sorrow, is it no wonder that we do, my friends? Later in chapter two, verses 13-19 the word "backsliding" is mentioned. Throughout the book, it is referenced over thirteen times with Babylon mentioned over 164. The remainder of chapter two is of a familiar subject. F. LeGard Smith, editor of THE DAILY BIBLE uses the following captions:  VINE BECAME CORRUPTED, LUST FOR FOREIGN GODS; IDOLS SO POWERLESS; GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN; SINS ARE DENIED; ALLIES WILL DISAPPOINT AND ISRAEL'S HARLOTRY. Dr. McGee says of the material in this book, as well as the bible as a whole, that many abandon their study because they don't comprehend it. Dr. McGee advises: Keep reading it until you understand it just as you did when first introduced to Geometry or Algebra. Today's affirmation: Lord, I am just like Jeremiah. I often feel that I can't do the jobs set before me. I lack confidence. But, you were with the "weeping prophet" and you will be with me. His story encourages me, Lord_as an employee, parent and child of God. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, May 29, 2010

 

Servant's Heart is the name of the ministry God has given me. When most people hear the word "servant" they flee in the opposite direction. As a member of a former church, I chose to join the organizations that were not in the limelight. Those that required real service. I was one of those who "dressed" the altar for communion. I went door to door in an attempt to make disciples. And even chaired the Food and Clothing Committee. I shyed away from other positions. I transferred that spirit to my new church home. It was there that I began my ministry to the depressed and down trodden. As it is done under a blanket of anonymity, I have continued the attitude of servitude. The wealthy can share this spirit of humility and some do through their philanthropy, but most equate their success according to those in service to them rather than the reverse. In the New Testament, Jesus set the example of service to others. He even washed the feet of others in order to demonstrate its significance. On the other hand, he condemned the religious leaders of His day. And He would probably do the same of many in the pulpits today. Jeremiah, on the other  hand, was a servant. He was given a ministry and he executed it in spite of his bouts with depression. Chapters three and four will be presented for this submission. The beginning of the third chapter actually terminates the second. The Lord speaks of Israel's harlotry: "If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers_would you now return to me?" declares the Lord. God is speaking of the nation's acts of idolatry. In verses 6-11 the Lord reminds Judah of what took place in faithless Israel. Then, Jeremiah, says, The Lord said to me, Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. Continuing in verses 12-22:  "'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the Lord, 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,' declares the Lord, 'I will not be angry forever..." declares the Lord. Then the Thousand Year Reign of Christ is inferred: At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubborness of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance..." Struggling with his melancholy, Jeremiah had the added assignment of confessing sin for Judah as well as himself. He was not popular. As I share scripture and editorials with you, I surmise I am not popular. Chapter four asks Judah to circumcise their hearts. And in verses 5-9 Babylon is identified as the "lion" who will take them into captivity: A lion has come out of his lair; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his place to lay waste your land. Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant. Jeremiah proves to be more than a mouth piece of God. Though that is a worthy calling. I would like to think the same thing when it comes to my mentor, Dr. McGee. In verse ten Jeremiah questions God, Then I said, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, how completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying 'You will have peace,' when the sword is at our throats." God answers in the next two verses: At that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, "A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse; a wind too strong for that comes from me. Now I pronounce my judgments against them. The editor of my bible of choice explains: God affirms that there will indeed be peace, but not before judgment and terrible destruction which will bring agony to both God himself and his children in Judah. Today's affirmation: I may have argued with and questioned God. I can see that it has been done by others. I realize that I have been endowed with choices. However, I must accept God's Sovreignty. He is the boss. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, May 30,2010

 

Of late we have been studying prophetic utterances by prophets who pronounced destruction upon the nations of Israel, first, and later Judah. But I think our memories of similar actions may be short. Recall if you will, the story of Noah, found in Gen. 6:1-11:32. Now, it is said there is an account of a great flood in every civilization, validating its occurance. The story of the ark and the saved animals is a familiar one. But there is a sub-plot about which few know. Though they are acquainted with Goliath, the Giant David slew as a lad. I am referencing the account to emphasize the fact that man has a history of unfaithfulness and that destruction was an outcome of such behavior. Notice the false worship encompassed in Chapter six. Ironically, we are considering chapters five and six of the book of Jeremiah. It is so comprensible that you can read it privately. When God is speaking the expected quotations are used and the phrase, "declares the Lord," usually puncuates God's statements. Attend as we revert to evidence of early false worship: When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, "My spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal, his days will be a hundred and twenty years. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days_and also afterward_ when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth_men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air_for I am grieved that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. And the rest is history, indeed. Also reference the account of Sodom and Gomorrah at Gen. 13. So, we see that man has a long record of disobeying God. And the Lord has a long record of extending mercy and forgiveness towards His creations. With this backdrop, please study chapters five and six of Jeremiah. Today's affirmation: As I study God's Word, I can see his mercy as well as His judgment. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted, Monday May 31, 2010

 

It is 11:00 pm and I am just getting around to posting the prayer for today. Everything that could, did go wrong. I seem to have gotten up on "the wrong side of the bed." First, my daughter had a birthday party and the twins were ill with a virus. It was intense, though brief. Then, I ate some food that didn't agree with me. I ended up with bouts of feeling well sandwiched in between that of nausea and fatigue. It got the better of me, at first, until I thought 'who's behind this' who is it that doesn't want me to continue with my ministry?' So, there you have it. And the evil one has an army behind him, some close to you. So, as I post the seventh chapter of Jeremiah, I can empathize with him in a more intimate fashion. Verse one tells us that the Lord gave these instructions to Jeremiah: This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: "Stand at the gate of the Lord's house and there proclaim this message: "...reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this palace. Do not trust in deceptive words..." Not only did this "weeping prophet" have to give an unpopular message, but he had to stand at the gate while doing so. The Lord continues: " 'Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe"_safe to do all these detestable things? They were not genuine and their lives had not been transformed. Chapters 7-9 were written after the Law of Moses had been discovered by Jeremiah's father. Albeit there was a revival they were the same people. Verses 16-20 say, "So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to them..." The people were going to the temple but were continuing their old habits. And God had finally had enough of them. Can you relate this to today's churches? Dr. McGee uses this phrase regarding them: they use their eyes for two things-to eye the clothes and close them during the service. Even so, God wants you back. He told the people of Israel, "...walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention..." Jeremiah was rejected. Have you felt that way, my freinds? You are not alone. At Jer. 18-9:2 Jeremiah did as we all should. He beseeched the Lord, O my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: "Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her king no longer there?" Later, Jeremiah reveals his true nature: Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Please continue to read through chapter ten, verses 1-5. Today's affirmation: My change must be internal. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, June 1, 2010

 

What does it mean to be popular and why do people seek it? I don't think I have to quote the definition of popularity from a dictionary. Even little ones understand its concept. They know when they are not liked. And being admired is important to them. If no one wants them as a team mate, it hurts their feelings. And these rejections follow them throughout life. I was always popular. But, now that I reflect upon it, that wasn't all good. People gain popularity for the wrong reasons_physical attractiveness, academic abilities, taste in clothing, and the list is exhaustive. I was chosen the queen of my high school and graduated valedictorian. This trend continued in college. But when I got off the popularity band wagon, I crashed. I wish I had been a "speckled bird' as God labeled Jeremiah in the twelfth chapter. In other words, popular for other reasons. Admired for my Christian beliefs as well as service to others. These attributes came later_much later. But they have emerged. Going against the flow can get you in trouble. At least in ways that don't matter. To stand out from the crowd gets God's attention. The Israelites, more often than not, went along for the ride. They knew better and they fooled themselves into believing that they were honoring God with their idolatrous worship. After all, they frequented the temple. The Law of Moses had been read and a reformation took place. Not a revival, mind you. We will consider chapters ten through twelve. The impotence of idols is discussed in the first five verses. It is interesting, notes Dr. McGee, that astrology was a part of this false worship. However, there is mention of the custom of cutting a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. Verses 1-5 says, "...They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter..." It seems as if the traditional Christmas tree is referenced, along with its condemnation, but Dr. McGee doesn't believe this is the case as celebrants don't bow down in worhship to it. In verses 17-22 it reveals, Gather up your belongings to leave the land, you who live under siege, For this is what the Lord says: "At this time I will hurl out those who live in this land; I will bring distress on them so that they may be captured. The last verses, 23-25, contain familiar scripture: I know, O Lord, that man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Chapter eleven begins with words from the Lord to Jeremiah: "Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem..." It later states that those who do not obey the covenant are to be cursed. Around this time Josiah, died in battle. The final verses tell of a plot against Jeremiah. He was not honored in his hometown, Anathoth, and they sought his life. The truth is unpopular, my friends. Chapter twelve speaks of dark days for Jeremiah. He didn't understand why God allows the wicked to prosper. Read God's answer to the prophet in verses 5-17. Today's affirmation: I may not be popular, but I must consider it a blessing. I  will not worry about being admired as long as I am accepted by God. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Wednesday, June 2, 2010

 

God brings out the best in me. And sometimes that requires a search. I can relate to Jeremiah at this point in his life. To say he is unpopular in Judah is to equate Mount Everest to a big hill. In my ministry, I often reveal subjects that are taboo in most circles.  Specifically false worship, which includes Satanism. My daughter knows my stand on the issue and her response was 'are you taking your medicine?' 'all of it?' It is easier to swim with the flow than against the current, isn't it? When one reveals their history of depression, this is often thrown into their face whenever they say something that appears to be off the beaten pathways of life. In this submission, Chapters 13-15 will be considered. Because of the time available I often provide a cliff notes viewpoint. I would like to reach Revelation someday. I'm enjoying the journey and hope you are as well. We find in the first few verses of chapter thirteen God is asking Jeremiah to do something a little odd. This is what the Lord said to me: "Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water." Jeremiah didn't question God. The belt the Lord requested him to purchase is a symbol of service. Dr. McGee brings out the fact that it was used to secure the long robes of the day so that work could be done. In the New Testament Jesus referenced it when He advised the people to gird their loins. Continuing, Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: "take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perah (Euphrates) and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks. What is the point of this? The Lord said that the belt, ruined in the crevice of the rocks symbolizes the house of Israel. Later, at verses 15-17 scripture speaks of the threat of captivity. It reads, Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light but he will turn it to thick darkness and change it to deep gloom. And in verse nineteen: All Judah will be carried into exile, carried completely away. Verses 2-27 speak of how people do good deeds while engaging in evil concomitantly. It reads, Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots. Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. Dr. McGee teaches that thirteen famines appeared in the bible and they all implicated judgment. The next verses, 7-9, are my favorite. Jeremiah prays for Judah. Be cognizant of the fact that there were other prophets to whom the people turned. But, when praying, Jeremiah used the pronoun "we." That is the reason for my admiration of this man of God. It says, Although our sins testify against us, O Lord, do something for the sake of your name. For our backsliding is great; we have sinned against you. Ending, You are among us, O Lord, and we bear your name, do not forsake us! Jeremiah had doubts. His friend, Josiah, had died and, besides the Lord, he was alone. In the beginning verses of chapter fourteen, Jeremiah laments: But I said," Ah Sovreign Lord, the prophets keep telling them, 'You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.'" In the next two verses God answers him. Then the Lord said to me, "The prophets are propheysing lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusion of the minds..." Jeremiah gave his messages with feelings, as are my intentions. The first two verses of chapter fifteen tell how God wouldn't change his mind even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before him. Today's affirmation: Jeremiah had doubts. I have doubts as well. I will keep my focus and my sense of humor. Humor sounds a lot like human, doesn't it? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do your receive it, my friends. Amen. Amen.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: SUBMISSIONS HAVE CEASED FOR A BRIEF TIME TO ALLOW MY BODY TO OVERCOME A MALAISE. ENTRIES WILL CONTINUE TOMORROW, JUNE 5TH. I INVITE YOU TO REVIEW EARLIER SUBMISSIONS. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT.

 

Submitted Saturday, June 5, 2010

 

I have a white serving set on my kitchen table that doubles as a triple-decker fruit bowl during off-season. I felt fortunate to find it during the Thanksgiving holiday because most sported turkey designs and I wanted to use it on other occasions. It is simple. It is made of pottery. There is a flaw in the main dish I later discovered. A portion of the pottery plays peek-a-boo and ruins the total white painting. Are does it? My son-in-law informed me that it was a natural occurance. After a little research, I discovered that pottery clay is the clay used to make three categories of pottery: earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Firing is used both to harden all three types of pottery and to adhere glaze to it or otherwise permanently color it. Porcelain requires the most heat and can be the most beautiful. It is often called china. It is nonporous and transculent. When I think of all of this, I wonder how it fits in with the three chapters of Jeremiah to be considered for this submission. To my surprise it is in this segment that Jeremiah visits a potter's house. When God made man, He was fashioned from clay (dust). We learned earlier that God commissioned the weeping prophet ,while yet in the womb, as one who would carry out his mission. Clay is not a pretty sight before the potter works with it and turns it into something of value, very much like the Creator did with us. We all start in the same manner. But, just as there are different types of pottery, so are there creations with different personalities. At least, this is my simplistic explanation. So, you see, my friends porcelein requires heat. But, later it becomes something beautiful.  You may be experiencing stress but you will become something better, akin to the butterfly. In Jer. 17:1-4 God's judgment is conveyed. It reads, "Judah's sin is engraged with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their hearts and on the horns of their altars..." It further states, ...Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever." Verses 5-8 berates the man who trusts in other men. Later, it says "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him..." The caption used to identify the next section is GOD KNOWS THE HEART. Verses 9-11 says, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Dr. McGee observes that ministers and evangelists often ask the congregation to give their heart to the Lord. Dr. McGee thinks it contrary to its nature.  Jeremiah is being taunted by the people of Judah. They observe peace and prosperity and view talk of their imminent destruction as mere poppy cock. Jeremiah wanted to resign. He had perservered but he was tired and depressed. He wanted to give up. Quoting from my bible of choice, it says: Another sign is now given to Jeremiah for use as an illustration in his preaching. Repeatedly God has likened his relationship with man to a potter's relationship with his clay. As the potter has power over his clay, so God as the Creator of the universe has unlimited power over men and nations, and the right to rule them as he sees fit. To bring that message home clearly to Jeremiah, God directs him to the house of a potter. A parable of the potter can also be referenced in the New Testament at Rom. 9:21 and 2 Tim. 2:21. The eighteenth chapter opens with a conspiracy against Jeremiah. He was  beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper gate of Benjamin at the Lord's temple. (Jer. 20:1,2) At verses 14-18 the man of God begins to engage in self-pity. There were others in the scripture who shared his sentiments. Men such as Elijah and Job. Elijah wanted to die. You see, my friends, you are not alone. In fact, the weeping prophet was on the verge of experiencing what is commonly known as a nervous breakdown. At Jer. 20:7-10 he says, So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones..." That is a familiar quote. Today's affirmation: Sometimes I feel, as did Jeremiah, that I will explode. But, I must hang on, for relief is around the bend. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, June 6, 2010

 

As a youngster, my life was pretty mundane. There was very little excitement in my little hamlet. Not even an emergency vehicle. Everybody knew each other; their parents and their parents' parents. The most exciting thing that happenened on Sundays was church with an occasional ball game on what we called "the last street," for obvious reasons. Until Revival Time. A tent would be set up on a corner lot and sometimes you must bring your own chair. There was a lot of hullabaloo. They lasted for at least a week and many souls were saved. At least temporarily. You knew when they were in session because you could hear the percussion instruments a mile away. While there were those who sincerely accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour, there were as many who were caught up in the excitement of the moment. Some evangelists went from town to town within a certain radius and conducted these reawakenings of religious fervor. Many of the "saved" never found their way to the local churches in town. Segue. During Jeremiah's preaching a revival took place. Or should we say a reformation? The editor of THE DAILY BIBLE introduces this historical segment thusly: It is obvious that Jeremiah is maturing both as a young man and as a prophet of God. He has been in the crucible of conflict and has emerged victorious. There will be more opposition and more personal sacrifice, but Jeremiah now has the fortitude to endure. Jeremiah will next be heard from after the reign of Josiah has ended. For now, however, the scene changes to a nation on the brink of a thorough, if brief, spiritual revival. Perhaps Jeremiah's preaching has been more effective than he realizes. We re-visit the book of Kings to determine what is taking place historically. 2 Kgs. 22:3-7 says, In the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Johaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God. At this time, Hilkiah was high priest. He gathered the money needed to repair the temple and entrusted it with faithful men so that they could pay the workers. Previously, we learned that Hilkiah found the book of Moses. 2 Kgs, 22: 9, 10 and 2 Chron. 34: 16-18 reveal that Shaphan took the book to the king. The king tore his robes when he heard about it. When the law was read to the people, they vowed to walk in the way of the Lord. Josiah cleansed the temple. Please read about the great Passover celebration conducted at 2 Kgs. 23:21-23 and 2 Chron. 35:1-19. Josiah was the last great king of Judah. We will find out what happened to him in the next submission. Today's affirmation: If I am going to pray, I won't worry, and if I am going to worry, I won't pray. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, June 7, 2010

 

Few expected it to happen. Except for those who perpetrated the event. I shall never forget it. It was an ordinary day in September. I was listening to the radio. It was a little past the noon hour and I had my first class for the afternoon. The radio announcer reported that a plane had crashed into the twin towers. How unfortunate. Soon after, the event was repeated. Something sinister was taking place. The first occurence was unfortunate but  chances of being repeated were highly unlikely. And the rest is history. A page Americans would like to rip from the annals of time. Who would have believed that terrorists would do such a thing_on our soil. Another occasion happened in the spring of the year, that few expected. I retired. So, the unexpected happens. My friends, you may not have anticipated your bout with depression as did I. But it happened. The same thing happened to Judah. But they were given plenty of warnings. Many examples were available. As we delve into the history of the times when Jeremiah preached, there should be few surprises. After all, other prophets had made similar warnings. First, Israel and now their sister nation, Judah. The only changes that may not be expected encompass the war for surpremacy between Assyria, Babylonia and Egypt. Josiah was killed in battle on the plain of Meggido. Does that name have a familiar root? Please read 2 Kgs. 23:29, 30 and 2 Chron. 35:2025 for details of the death of Judah's last great king before their exile. The people annointed Jehoahaz when he was twenty-three and he reigned for three months. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Pharaoh Neco captured Jehoahaz. I invite you to read further in 2 Kgs. 23-36. Meanwhile, let us find out what is happening with Jeremiah as we return to the twenty-sixth chapter. Verses 1-6 say, Early in the reign of Jehoiakin son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the Lord: "This is what the Lord says: Stand in the courtyard of the Lord's house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the Lord. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I will relent and not bring them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done. Say to them, 'This is what the Lord says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then, I will make this house like Shiloh and this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth.'" In verses 7-9 the priests confront Jeremiah. All of the people seized him and said "You must die!" Analyze the prophet's defense in verses 12-15. The rulers stood up for him, saying in the next few verses: "This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God." The weeping prophet was released. Today's affirmation: Like Jeremiah, sometimes I weep and indulge myself in selfpity.  If I could only reach out and touch somebody's hand and make this a better world if I can. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friend? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, June 8, 2010

 

Jeremiah was an ordinary person given great power. So was Spider-Man. Known for his heroic adventures, he experienced ordinary problems. His alter ego, Peter,  was orphaned at an early age and raised by Aunt May and Uncle Ben. He mourned after the death of Uncle Ben and felt responsible. He was rejected romantically and was criticized by his employer. Albeit it is fiction, and a comic at that, the creators, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, as well as Marvel publishers made history when they assigned the hero ordinary insecurities and anxieties. That is why I admire Jeremiah. He was weak but he had been given a strong message to deliver to Judah. He didn't have friends_except for King Josiah. He wasn't even married. He was beaten and imprisoned and threatened with death. Yet, he was blessed. Just as you, my friends. You may ponder, 'how could someone suffering from depression be blessed?' Let us pan to the New Testament and find Rom. 5:3. It states: And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. Yes, my friends you can come out the winner in this match. And it is a match, just as much as one would compete in a sporting event. Focus is required, along with endurance. And you must listen to your coaches_God and members of the mental health community. You can't run the race alone for you will tire out. At the finish line, you would have learned many lessons in life. Patience is only one. This will be a brief submission, my friends. As so some should. I will entrust you to read the forty-sixth chapter of Jeremiah. It seems as though we are running a twisted course through the bible and, indeed, we are. It is so we can reveal the history with the prophetic word. The chapter referenced discusses Jeremiah's Judgment Against Egypt. Today's affirmation: I am as I believe. I will not allow anyone to label me as "crazy." For the truly demented ones are those who are not being treated. They may put on a happy face but many carry burdens. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do You receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, June 9, 2010

 

A dozen years ago, during my pre-retirement years, I was a Speech Language Pathologist at a middle school in a rural community. I split my time between them and the primary  school. It was at the middle school that I met a tall, wiry, cranky young man named Habakkuk. When I first saw the name I was taken aback as I had never heard of it. That was before I started studying the Holy Scriptures. When his mother came in for a conference she pronounced it for me and announced that it was biblical. I sighed deeply after discovering he was called Demetrius, his middle name. He was a young man with problems. And so is the Habakkuk of the old testament. The introduction of THE DAILY BIBLE for this section was done so well that I will quote it: While Jeremiah is continuing his prophecies against Judah and its oppressors, one of Jeremiah's contemporaries, Habakkuk, poses the profound theological question which must nag at anyone who is seriously listening to the prophets. It may even be a question which the various prophets themselves have considered. Certainly Habakkuk is concerned about it. The question is this: how can a righteous and holy God use a wicked nation like Babylonia to bring punishment against God's own people, rebellious and sinful though they may be? Are not the ruthless Babylonians and the other oppressors of Judah merely acting on their own in great arrogance and with no thought whatever of achieving any  devine purpose? How then can God permit these unrighteous nations to succeed in their evil oppressions? And the question stretches beyond even the present conflicts to other related issues. How can God permit the wicked to prosper, often at the expense of the righteous? How can a righteous God permit evil to exist at all? Although God does not provide all the answers in his dialogue with Habakkuk, he does address the central question. His answer is that evil, wherever it is found, always bears within it the seeds of its own destruction. Judah's sins have condemned it to inevitable destruction. The particular agency by which that destruction comes is of no consequence. The enemy may be a righteous or a wicked nation_it matters not. But likewise, if the oppressors themselves are evil_as the Babylonians are_then they too will face their own destruction. Only in righteousness is there life; sin always brings death. Habakkuk, whose name means love's embrace, reveals little about himself, even the time in which he prophesied. Dr. McGee doesn't consider him to be a prophet in the sense of his contemporaries, but rather compares him with Jonah and Job. He also calls him "the doubting Thomas of the old testament." The book is often quoted in the Greek Scriptures. Have you ever questioned God, my friends? It is better to do so directly than to shroud it inside theological theory. If you do so sincerely, God will answer. Have you ever asked 'why me?' as it relates to your melancholy? Though little is known of the prophet, theologians consider the three chapters he penned to be of literary excellence as well as to contain profound principles, many of which are quoted in the new testament. Dr. McGee divides the three chapters into perplexity, prespection and praise. It opens in gloom and ends with glory. Hab. 1:1 states: How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. As I read this, it reminds me of a little child questioning his parent_'Why can't I have the candy?' 'Why do I have to eat my veggies?' 'Why do I have to go to bed?' Hab. 1:5-11 discusses Babylon's punishment. "Look at the nations and watch_and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own..." A line Dr. McGee analyzes from verse 12 is mentioned in the gospels of the new testaments: My God, my Holy One, we will not die. This speaks of the life saving blood that Jesus shed so that we might experience everlasting life. Chapter two, identified by Dr. McGee as perspection, contains an important verse_one of the most important in the scriptures: "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright_but the righteous will live by his faith..." Before the Law, faith was unknown. But, after the coming of Christ it was everything. Then, in chapter two verses, six through seventeen, there are more woes. Please read them later. GOD IS IN CONROL is the caption used to identify Hab. 2:18-20. And that says it all. Chapter three features a song that Habakkuk wrote praising God. Please read it at your convenience. Today's affirmation: It's me. It's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. It's me. It's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my mother, not my father, but me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my sister, not my brother but it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted, Thursday, June 10, 2010

 

The bad news is that the first captives were taken to Babylon. The good news is that Daniel was among them. We will study about him later. This segment focuses on Jer. 25 and 35. The short of it is Babylon becomes the first world power, pouncing on Egypt. The last remaining kings of Judah were evil and they served as vassals for the Chaldeans (Babylonians). At Jer. 25:8-11 it reveals the duration of their enslavement_seventy years. But in verses 12-14 it states: "But when the seventy years are fulfilled I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt," declares the Lord, "and will make it desolate forever. .." A metaphor is used in verses 15-26_the wine of my wrath. And it simply means judgment will come. Please read the entire scripture for more indepth understanding of the nations  involved. In Jer. 35:1-12 the clan of the Recabites is discussed. In the first five verses it reveals the directions the Lord gave Jeremiah regarding them: This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: "Go to the Recabite family and invite them to come to  one of the side rooms of the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink." In verses 6-12 it states: But they replied, "We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: 'Neither you or our descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.' We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab  son of Recab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded this land, we said, 'Come we must go to Jerusalem to escape the Babylonian and Aramean armies.' So we have remained in Jerusalem." And at 35:18-19: Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Recabites, "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered,' Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.'" The point is this: if there are those who will remain faithful for generations to man's commands, then there ought to be more people obeying the commands of God, their very Creator. Additionally, this proves there will always be a "remnant" of followers of God. Today's affirmation: Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires, I will take my "luck" as it comes, and fit myself to it. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.  Just for today I won't find fault with anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody but myself. Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me. (Author Unknown, sent to me by my friend, Danny) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, June 11, 2010

 

Today's entry is truly going to be, as author Rick Warren references them_a breath prayer. It encompasses Jer. 36 and relates the event when Jehoiakim burns Jeremiah's scroll. As is evident, I try to be original with my introductions. And with God's inspiration have accomplished that goal. On occassion I rarely quote from THE DAILY BIBLE. This is one of those times. I direct you to read the chapter later. It says, After 23 years of preaching, none of Jeremiah's many prophecies has yet been recorded. Therefore God now directs Jeremiah to record his words on a scroll, apparently not only to preserve them for ages to come, but also to enable the people of Judah to review all of his messages at one time. After Jeremiah dictates God's words to a scribe named Baruch, he directs Baruch to read the scroll aloud in the temple. When news of this finally reaches King Jehoiakim, he brazenly burns the scroll, piece by piece. Not surprisingly, this serves only to bring a special judgment against Jehoiakim and his descendants. The burned scroll is replaced by another which, together with a later supplement, has preserved the history of Jeremiah's ministry even to this day. Today's affirmation: God speaks to me when I see the beauty of a rainbow or hear an infant's cry. God speaks to me when I awaken in the morning and hear the sounds of birds. When do I speak to God? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Saturday, June 12, 2010

 

As we zigzag through the Bible, we stop at the book of Daniel. Only for awhile, as THE DAILY BIBILE will return us to Jeremiah. The book begins by telling us of the life of the King of Prophets. Daniel was incarcerated between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one around 604 b.c. He was no ordinary prisoner. He was a trustee of sorts. But much more than that. He was handsome, smart and a child of the Most High. The book of Daniel consisted of purpose, prayer, and prophecy, according to Dr. McGee. It is filled with autobiographical information. We will drink deeply from the well of the book of Daniel. For this submission we will consider the first chapter exclusively as the book will be given less of a cliff note presentation and more verse-by-verse description. The setting is in Babylon, which should not surprise you. Dan. 1:3-5 says, Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of the court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility_young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. King Nebuchadnezzar chose the creme de la creme from among the Hebrews. He was a shrewd leader. And, under normal circumstances it would have been considered an honor. Albeit most bibles aren't direct in saying it, Dr. McGee brings out that Daniel was made a eunuch. He was castrated, in other words to ensure that his attention would not be diverted. And so were his companions. Verses six and seven tell how Daniel and the three friends who accompanied him were given Babylonian names. It states, Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach and to Azariah, Abednego. While other prisoners from Judah ate what was dished out to them, Daniel and his companions were issued royal food. Verses 8-16 tell us: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you." Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. There is some controversy regarding the substance given Daniel. Dr. McGee thinks they were supplied with grain rather than veggies. Or, it could have been a combination of the two. There have been nutritionists of our day who have gone on a "Daniel Diet." Verse seventeen tells us that the four young men excelled in their studies and that Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kind. At verses 18-20 we find the king testing the boys; the three year period had ended and he found none equal to them. So they entered the king's sevice. Today's affirmation: I thank you God, for easing my troubled mind. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you reiceive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, June 13, 2010

 

Have you ever heard of a "dream" book? During my youth, there was such a thing. It was a spindly looking little pamphlet more than a book. In it  were sample dreams that folk back then may have experienced. Then, numbers were assigned them. You would use the numbers to play a game called bolita. Of course, it was gaming in its simplest form. Each morning neighbors were more interested in "what fell" than they were of their welfare. In the second book of Daniel, a king had a dream that he wouldn't reveal to his wise men before they explained what he envisioned. The king was Nebuchadnezzar and the dream would rock the ancient as well as our present world as we know it. This is an important chapter in prophecy. Verses one through three tell of the king's troubled mind resulting from a dream he had experienced. He summoned his cabinet, so to speak. The old guys, not Daniel and his contemporaries. Verse three says, when they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means." My friends, some of you may have had such dreams. Dr. McGee thinks that God no longer speaks to men through visions, but I am not so sure. He thinks the delusion is due more to the diet than God's desire to communicate with you. At verses 4-11 the astrologers speak to Nebuchadnezzar in Aramaic, the language of the world. Dr. McGee considers this noteworthy as it is the beginning of the line of David being placed in the hands of Gentiles. This king, proned towards psychosis as will be revealed later, gets tough. "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me." The wise men were put in a precarious predicament. The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks..." The astrologers were more wise than they knew when they uttered this statement, as it would take action of a living God to do as the king desired. And Babylon was the center of pagan worship, so it would not likely come from among them. Enters Daniel, and just in the knick of time. Arioch, the commander of the king's guard had been told to put the wise men to death, both young and old. When Daniel heard of the matter he asked the king's officer, "Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?" It appears as if when the king has insomnia everyone suffers. Verses 17-23 tell how Daniel returned to his house and broke the news to his friends. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men. Dr. McGee considers their reference to "the God of heaven" noteworthy. Prior to this time, God was thought to be confined in the temple. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Please read Daniel's prayer. Later, Daniel went to Arioch and said, "Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him. The king asked Daniel (also called Beltheshazzar), "Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interepret it?" Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come..." Now the dream will be revealed. Before we discuss its meaning recall what has been previously mentioned regarding prophecy. It's like now and later candy of days goneby. Some affects present days and others will be saved for later periods. God communicated with the king in a way that would be meaningful to him. In other words, God spoke his language. Verses 31-35 tell, "You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue_an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. Notice the types of metals used as well as their location. The head of the statue is gold, the finest element. It stands at the top. This represents Babylon. Silver was inferior and was represented by two body parts, symbolizing the Medes and the Persians. Then brass symbolizes Greece and Macedonia. The fourth, Rome, which was never destroyed, as well as the latter days. (us) There is a deterioation in the value of the metals. And they become lower on the statue, representing less honor. Read the details in verses 36-45. These verses end by referencing the coming of Christ. He is the "rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands." I have tried to explain this important prophecy, yet personal study will enhance comprehension. Chapter two ends when the king fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor. The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries for you were able to reveal this mystery. Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. But, Daniel did not live happily ever after and the king was not converted. Today's affirmation: Maybe I am not going to live happily ever after. Life is not a fairy tale. I may not marry the queen or king. But with proper focus and prayer I can be happy. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, June 14, 2010

 

We're back in Jeremiah with a stop over in second kings where we find Johoiakim attempting rebellion. 2Kgs. 24:1 reveals how Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. The editor of my bible of choice says he behaves as if he had a death wish. First, he destroys the scroll Jeremiah had the scribe to write, and now he chooses the king of Babylon as an opponent. Verses 2-4 state: The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord's command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive. Later the 48th and 49th chapters of Jeremiah relate the judgments against the nations God sent to destroy Judah. I am going to trust you to read what the Lord said about them. There was judgment against Moab, Ammon, Edom, and Demascus. But Jehoiakim will not live to see vengeance brought on his enemies. Today's affirmation: I must learn to like myself before expecting others to do so. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Tuesday, June 15, 2010

 

And the beat goes on, and on and on ....right into Babylonian captivity. As you are aware, the historical books of Kings and Chronicles, both twin presentations, serve as pivotal points in our studies. We vascillate from prophet to prophet, returning to the historical books. That was the way it happened. Many who served as God's spokesmen overlapped each other. They existed at the same time. Some were younger, others older and some focused on the northern tribes while others the southern. It didn't happen in a neat little package with a ribbon tied around them. It wasn't that convenient. The prophets were commissioned because of the events surrounding the rulers, and the behavior of the people as well. To skim over these kings and present them in isolation does not give the full flavor of the biblical account. I was unaware of this for a long time. I stumbled upon THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Initially, I, too, was confused. But, you don't need to invest in a copy of my bible of choice if you are willing to flip through the bible as we study it. For this submission, we will concentrate on 2 Kgs. 24 and 2 Chron. 36. And, it does indeed require concentration to put the puzzle together. In other words, you must study rather than read the information. We have focused on the prophet Daniel, so an exodus has already taken place. However, there were puppet kings remaining in Jerusalem. At 2 kngs. 24: 6,8 and 2 Chron. 36: 8,9 around  597 B.C. we discover yet another king on the throne in Jerusalem. It was Jehoiachin the son of Jehoiachim. It reads, Jehoichin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. Apparently, he didn't have time to make changes before his deportation. But, more than likely he would have followed in his father's footsteps. Jeremiah prophesied about what would happen to this teen ruler. At Jer. 22:24-30 the Lord speaks to the prophet. "As surely as I live," declares the Lord, "even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. I will hand you over to those who seek your life, those you fear_to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to the Babylonians. I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. You will never come back to the land you long to return to." Jehoichin was taken captive and brought to Babylon. Please read 2 Kgs. 24:13-16 to find out how the king of Babylon removed the treasures from the temple of the Lord. Later in 2 Kgs:17-18 it speaks of Zedekiah being made a puppet king. He reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He also did evil in the eyes of the Lord. It seems that at this point Zedekiah would have better sense. The leaders and the priests followed him. They mocked God's messengers. Are you doing the same things and expecting different results, my friends, as did this king? Today's affirmation: I must learn to follow my conscience, rather that of the thinking and behavior of the crowd. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Wednesday, June 16, 2010

 

The fig tree has always occupied a place of prominence in both the Hebrew (old) and Greek (New) Scriptures. It was the first named plant of the bible other than the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve used its leaves to sew garments when they realized they were naked. (Gen. 3:7) It was one of the foods produced by the promised land. (Deut. 8:8-10) During Solomon's lifetime Judah and Israel lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree. And in the New Testament we find the parable of the budding fig tree found in such scriptures as Matt. 24:32-36 as part of the Olivet discourse. Then there is the parable of the barren fig tree recorded in the Gospel of Luke 13:6-9. (source: Figs in the Bible-Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Now, we come to the issue at hand. The metaphorical illustration of the good and bad figs in Jeremiah. For this submission we will, again, jump around a bit, covering Jeremiah, chapters 24, 29, 27 and 28.  All of the cited chapters can be explained by catagorizing the characters as either good or bad figs. Let us examine the source of that comparison. Jer. 24:1-10 gives us the vision of the figs. It reads, After Jehoichin son of Jehoikim king of Judah and the officials, the craftsmen and artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Lord showed me two baskets placed in front of the temple of the Lord. One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very poor figs, so bad they could not be eaten. Then the Lord asked me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "Figs," I answered. "The good ones are very good, but the poor ones are so bad they cannot be eaten." Then the word of the Lord came to me: "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me; that I am the Lord. They will be my people and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. "'But like the poor figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,' says the Lord, 'so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. I will make them abhorent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, an object of ridicule and cursing, wherever I banish them. I will send the sword, famine and plague against  them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their fathers.'"  Jer 29:1-23 tell of the letter Jeremiah wrote to the exiles. It gives them a glimmer of hope. In it he condemns the false prophets_bad figs. And he said, This is what the Lord says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord..." Then Jer. 27:1-3 tell how the Lord asked Jeremiah to wear a yoke: "Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck..." What was its meaning? A message was sent to the nations: " 'If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague..." At Jer. 27:12-15, the same message was sent to Zedekiah. Then there were the false prophets. Also bad figs. We end with Hananiah's punishment for breaking the yoke from the neck of Jeremiah: Shortly after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. The Lord condemned him to death and in the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died. Today's affirmation comes from the New Testament, Matthew 5:1-12: And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, June 17, 2010

 

I receive all kinds of electronic messages_from funny to serious and a few silly ones in between. One day I got this message about the bible. Some clever person had compressed the bible into a mini presentation. It was child-like, but accurate for the most part. A few words replaced a few books. And, if some had their way, that is how you would write the Holy Scriptures. In a few words. To be candid, there are times when a few words would be sufficient. But, God inspired men to write it and He wanted it just as it is. I am using the plan outlined in THE DAILY BIBLE designed to be completed in a year. Sometimes I stick to their suggestions; sometimes I don't. But the editor has divided it in order to make it meaningful. We have already discussed its chronological nature. This submission features the twenty-third chapter of Jeremiah. And, it basically berates the false prophets. They are following an evil course and use their powers unjustly. We have previously alluded to this fact. They were evil just as the political faction. I am going to allow some audience participation, as it were, and request that you read that chapter. Today's affirmation: A soft answer turneth away wrath. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Friday, June 18, 2010

 

This is going to be a quirky submission, but one that is most sincere. I have been growing weary over my desire to post daily prayers. I empathize with Jeremiah and the other prophets. Though I dare not put myself in a class with them. I have been considering posting them every two or three days rather than on a daily basis. I "bounced" the idea off my husband. We talked about cutting back in other areas of my personal obligations. Perhaps I would spend less time with my grandtwins, I pondered. Or maybe cut back time with my mother. Exercise. I can't eliminate that. And household chores have to be done. I was weary, though not depressed. I started to think about the distance I have to go before reaching Revelation. I was frustrated. I hope there are those who look forward to reading this site daily and would be disappointed if I didn't continue with my promise to do so each day (excluding vacations and illness). Then I compared myself with ministers who shepherd churches. They prepare weekly sermons, and albeit my submissions are much shorter, it's akin to a daily sermonette. Finally, I figured it out. I have been depending too heavily upon the assistance of Dr. McGee. I haven't been reading every single verse. When I do that, I make the submission more mine rather than his. That is what God wants me to do. I had done that prior to the prophecies. I do need help with interpretation, but I need to inject more of myself into the lesson. I will not allow Satan to win this battle. Get thee behind me, Satan. He wants to see me tire out. I am asking for your prayers, my friends, as I run this race. I have to perservere. I am doing what God has directed me to do. In the future, I will also try to reflect upon depression as often as possible. I am a day behind, but will try to catch up soon. Today's affirmation is for me: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Pray for me, my friends. My mission is a sincere one. Amen. Amen.  

 

Submitted Saturday, June 19, 2010

 

My zeal for my ministry has returned. And, my friends, your zeal for life can return. That zeal you had for your job, hobbies, parenting_and even God_ can return. It won't be easy, but you can reclaim it. For this entry, we will continue to discuss Babylon. And it is a big target. At this time, the world was their oyster. They were the first world empire. Can you relate to that, my friends? Remember when you felt you had the world on your shoulders, and suddenly it crashed around you? God used the Babylonians to punish His people, but now He is going to punish them in a way that will obliterate them from the world's scene. Have you ever heard of a country called Babylonia or met a Babylonian? That is because God will totally destroy them. Some of you, my friends, may feel that life is over for you. But those residing in climates with harsh winters can tell how the grass and flowers always return_unscathed. Some of you may have attempted to snuff out that life. But God would have none of it. The captives in Babylonia must have been depressed. But God sent them encouragement. And God is sending you the same uplifting message. Hold on, change is coming. One such message sent to captives in Babylonia was transmitted by a staff officer of Zedekiah. His name was Seriah. I would hate to be in his shoes, to borrow a cliche. Jer. 50:1-3 tell of the words the Lord spoke through Jeremiah: Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame. Some of you, my dear ones, are ashamed because you have a mental illness. Many wish for themselves anything except that stigma. But there are worse conditions. And, it would be helpful for you to think of some. Death, for instance. Many of you have chosen it over the drama accompanying depression. But prayer can help, and so can the mental health community. In verses 4-10 of the chapter upon which we will focus for this entry, chapter fifty, God speaks lovingly about Judah and says their exile will end: "My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. Some of you are roaming on a proverbial mountaintop. You, too, have been led astray by poor choices of friends, spouses and the like. Those verses state further that, "For I will stir up and bring against Babylon an alliance of great nations from the land of the north. They will take up their positions against her, and from the north she will be captured..." declares the Lord. Further, in verses 11-13 the future desolation of the Chaldeans is revealed: All who pass Babylon will be  horrified and scoff because of all her wounds. Haven't you felt like this, my friends? That people are talking about you, perhaps behind your back. They stare at you and think, 'he/she was so smart at one time.' Even the enemies of Satan's stronghold will be encouraged to plunder her. And, that great leader, Nebuchadnezzar, will be punished. Jer. 50:17,18: Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "I will punish the king of Babylon and his land as I punished the king of Assyria..." Were you an executive or high power figure before depression befell? Maybe you did some illicit deeds to acquire such power. It is not too late for you, my friends.  In verses 21-30, we find the Chaldeans are being called to war. "Summon archers against Babylon, all those who draw the bow, Encamp all around her; let no one escape. Repay her for her deeds; do to her as she has done. For she has defied the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. Therefore, her young men will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day," declares the Lord. Arrogance was the cause of her defeat. Some of you are arrogant and too proud to admit you have a problem. You may get away with it for a while, until you also are left bereft of your powers. We will conclude with the words at Jer. 50:40: "So desert creatures and hyenas will be there, and there the owl will dwell. It will never again be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah along with their neighboring towns," declares the Lord, This prophecy has come to fruition. Today's affirmation: You light up my life, Lord. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, June 20, 2010

 

Pride goeth before a fall. Literally. At least that was the case with a close relative. He has been active for many years, as well as financially independent. But, as of late his health has declined. But he doesn't want to admit it. He refuses to use his walker except in the house. And he risks taking a spill outside of his abode rather than being seen using a wheel chair or cane. He becomes adamant about it. We were dining out at a buffet-styled restaurant where he insisted upon getting his own food. Things worked out for him, but not without a fuss from his care giver. He has fallen before and had a near miss on another occasion. But, he goes his own way thinking that things haven't changed. That is what is happening to the nation of Babylon. They, too, are prideful. Is your health failing, my friends? If you live long enough these things will happen to you. How are you handling them? Are you fighting your care taker every step of the way? Do you not believe that you will need assistance from someone else? That causes depression in some, and not just the elderly. Like my relative, Babylon has experienced success. They have climbed the ladder and now sit at its pinnacle. They don't realize that they, too, can fall. They have been ferocious, capturing Judah. And, God has allowed it. This may seem rather odd that God allowed them to over power Judah and, yet, God had plans for their demise. God has not forgotten Israel. It says in Jer. 51:1-5: For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel. During my twenty year bout with depression I never thought God had abandoned me. But, some of you do. God may be using your situation to rescue you, if that makes sense. In other words, your situation is not your destination_only preparation. But, with the Chaldeans that was not quite the case. Yes, God is going to teach them a lesson but they will not survive it. Dr. McGee has said that Babylon will return later. But in present times it has become extinct. We are looking at the fifty-first chapter of Jeremiah for the most part. And part of it tells how suddenly Babylon will fall. We will find out more about this in the book of Daniel. Jer. 51:11-14 identify the nation that will usurp the Chaldean throne: "Sharpen the arrows, take up the shields! The Lord has stirred up the kings of the Medes, because his purpose is to destroy Babylon..." Verses 24-26 tell us they will be desolate forever.  Babylon is mentioned in the book of Revelation, but I am unable to correlate it with the one at hand. Another chapter of Jeremiah is referenced in this segment of study in my bible of choice. It is Jer. 34:8-22. Please examine it. It speaks of Hebrew slaves. Today's affirmation: The Lord will provide. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Monday, June 21, 2010

 

I have heard of Ezekial's wheels. And the fact that there was a wheel in the middle of a wheel. But I didn't even realize that he was a prophet. And when I did, I was thinking, 'what more can they say about Judah?' But, I got more than that which I bargained when the bible of my choice switched gears and featured Ezekial. He was a contemporary of an older Jeremiah, as well as Daniel. He was a Levite and a Babylonian captive who journeyed there along with King Jehoiachin. Like Daniel he was a young man_about twenty-five. Are you young, my friends? Have burdens befallen you in the prime of your life? Or have you always been burdened by life's circumstances? Like Ezekial, you can bloom where you are planted. Sometimes a troubled life makes fertile grounds that lead to success. But, make sure your accomplishments include God. Ezekial would have had a fulfilled life had things turned out differently. After all, he was of priestly artistocracy. But, instead he ended up in the great deportation of 597 B.C. and his home was a place called Tel Abib by the Kebar River, miles from Babylon. How would you have handled it, my friends? Ezekial ended up experiencing a close relationship with the Creator. One he may not have had in his hometown. He had been a prisoner for five years when he, at age thirty, began his priestly service. The Messiah also began His ministry at that age. We will shine today's spotlight on the first chapter of Ezekial. Verses 1-3 say that the hand of the Lord was upon him. And, my friends, the hand of the Lord is upon you. It may appear differently from your vantage point. But, God knows all about you. And He is there for you. He will be the wind beneath your wings. If you allow Him to be such. Most of our focus will be on verses 4-24. You are not expected to understand it. I don't understand it. Dr. McGee doesn't understand it and I don't think most ministers do either. When was the last time you heard a sermon on Ezekial's wheels? If that is the case then why spend so much time on it? It is confusing, yes, but it prefigures Revelation four. I hope I have a brighter outlook by the time we reach there. Ezekial had a vision of the glory of God. Moses had such an encounter. Remember when God's glory passed over him as he was hidden from the Lord's countenance and warned that no one can see Him and yet live. So, before we examine his vision, please understand that the young prophet had a vision of the glory of God. He did not see God. But what he did envision gives us an idea of His awesome nature. Beginning with verse one, it says Ezekial saw a windstorm coming out of the north. Dr. McGee says it is from this direction that God is often referenced. A cloud came with flashing lightning and was surrounded by a bright light. In the New Testament, Jesus identified himself as the light of the world. Dr. McGee equates the light as having a two-fold purpose: to reveal and conceal. There was fire that looked like glowing metal and four living creatures were there. They looked like a man in form, but each had four faces and four wings. Scripture tells us: Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. This vision reflects upon the creatures that guarded the garden of Eden. Have you had visions, my friends? They may have been more of the nightmarish sort. Sometimes they occur when we are not completely asleep. Often they prevent slumber. It doesn't indicate if Ezekial had the vision nocturnally. Lets describe their faces. Like other prophets we have studied, Ezekial seems to prefigure the apocolypse. Scripture says, Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox. The face of a man points to the Christ, and to me, the attributes in their totality describe those of God. Continuing, Each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. It goes on to say: Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. This phrase is repeated. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. Now, lets describe the wheels Ezekial envisioned. As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. This was the appearance and structure of the wheels. Please read the details. It is worthy of your time in Ezk. 1:4-24. It says when the creatures moved, so did the wheels. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. This symbolized the ominipotent powers of God. I am going to request that you read the remainder of Chapter one. Today's affirmation: God is awesome. I want Him on my side. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen

Submitted Monday, July 5, 2010

Two years ago, when my daughter, Kourtni, informed me that she was pregnant I was elated. But, when she said she was having twins, I was floored. And, then she told me they would be identical. I was blown away. They are indeed identical. So much so that my husband and I still confuse them. However, they do demonstrate different personalities. The same, though different. This is the second time I have written about the second, third and fourth chapters of Ezekial. I inadvertently erased the page and now find myself entering the material for the second time. Sort of like, identical twins. Albeit the message may be the same, it is difficult to re-create those submissions in the exact manner as previously done. Before embarking upon the second chapter, I am going to do what is often done in the computer world_drag the last verse of the first chapter to the forefront of the second. Following a description of the wheels and the creatures, Ezekial saw an appearance of God's glory. I am citing Ezk. 1:25-28. Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like a glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from  there down he looked like fire and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the  appearance of a rainbow in  the clouds on a rainy day, so was the raidiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Now, at verses one and two of the second chapter, God calls Ezekial. He asked him to stand and God commissioned him. He told him that he was going to send him to give a message to a rebellious nation. My friend, are you rebellious? Perhaps a rebel without a cause as is said in Hollywood. He cautioned Ezekial not to be fearful and warned him about being rebellious. I think that, in a way, God has commissioned me to do the work I am trying to accomplish. It is hard. I once used the analogy of giving a daily sermonette. While short, it requires research and creativity. And, sometimes, I am tired and don't feel like doing it. This must be how the prophets felt. Or, any minister. And, yes, even you, my friends. You feel tired. You feel like giving up. But hold on just for a little while longer. God knows your spirit and He is cognizant of your limitations. At 2:9 God reaches out to him. My friends, God is reaching out to you as well. He gave Ezekial a scroll. Not to read, but to eat. God wanted him to make his message a part of himself. You, too, must make God's message a part of you. The chapter ends with the beginning of the next. Ezk. 3:3 says, Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Today's affirmation: I will designate a seat in my house as the "prayer chair" or "mercy seat." I will find my way there to clear my head. This prayer I pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

Submitted Tuesday, July 6, 2010

To various degrees God has been preparing me for this ministry all of my life. Through good times and bad. As a wee one, I learned to read quickly. I shall never forget those primers. "Jump Jip, Jump. Jip can jump." I loved to read. So much so that the teacher had to caution my mother not to allow me to complete the book ahead of the other students. I even worked as a student librarian in the book mobile that serviced my country school. I learned to speak in public at an early age. And I have always loved the Lord. Writing has always come naturally for me. So, I  have had the elements of what it takes to reach you on the web since childhood. Even the sad years of depression helped. Without such experiences I could not relate to you, my friends. And then there were the many churches I attended, giving me a global view of worship that allows me to weave them into the tapestry of this website. My mission is difficult. Some days I would choose to do other things. But, I have learned to enjoy my work. And it is work indeed. Segue to the third chapter of Ezekial. In verses 4-11 we find God speaking to him. "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them..." God reminded the prophet that he was being sent to his own people who spoke his native tongue. But, God cautioned him that they would not listen. In fact, those speaking a foreign language might respond more positively. To counteract their stubborness, God told Ezekial that He would make him as hardened as they are. Verses twelve and thirteen tell us that Ezekial heard a rumbling sound. They were the sounds of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them. Then the next two verses find Ezekial at the Kebar River at Tel Abib. Here God cautions the "Son of man," against not warning those who are wicked. It says, But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. This is why I weave messages from the Lord within this website. Let those who hear the Word, follow it. I have done my part in warning you. Today's affirmation: I need someone to watch over me. This prayer we pray in the  name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Show and Tell became the highlight of the children's week when I taught primary classes. The pupils would bring an object or toy and given an opportunity to tell all about it. Sometimes a parent would get in on the act by bringing their pet to school. It was good for socialization, language development and self esteem. Well, in Ezekial 3:22-5 the Almighty employed this same tactic to communicate with the Hebrew children. He directed Ezekial to act out what would happen to them in the future. It involved more "show" than "tell." He did so in five acts. At Ezk.3:22,23 God sent the "Son of Man" to the plains. God spoke to him and said: "Go shut yourself inside your house, and you, Son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the  people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says,' Whoever will listen let him listen and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house..." How about you, my friends? Are you residing in a rebellious house? This message is for you as well. Will you listen? As we enter the fourth chapter we find another demonstration. This time Ezekial was to draw a picture of the city of Jerusalem. God directed him to lay siege to it by building a ramp and placing an iron pan as a wall between he and the city. This was to be a sign to them. In the next act, Ezekial was instructed to experience some discomfort. He was to lie on his sides for a period of time. Read 4:4-8 to get the essence of what God had in mind. Then God asked Ezekial to do something that he was unwilling to perform. God wanted him to eat defiled food. That is where  Ezekial drew the line. God asked him to bake bread over a fire made of human excrement. But, after the prophet's refusal God compromised with cow manure. The last scene is a sign of Ezekiel's hair. He was to shave. Then when the days of his "siege" came to an end, God asked him to divide his hair into three parts. The fifth chapter tells us, A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword. My friends, do you see that God is of both love and justice? Today's affirmation: Take your burdens and leave them at the feet of Jesus. This prayer we pray in the  name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

NOTE FROM EDITOR: SUBMISSIONS WILL CEASE FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS AS I AM ON VACATION. LOOK FORWARD TO RETURNING VERY SOON.

 

Submitted Monday, July 12, 2010

 

I had a conversation with a colleague I met when I was eighteen years old and in my inaugural year in college. We had lost touch along the way, but recently reunited as if we had never lost contact. She, too, is suffering from depression. During one of our pow-wows she said to me, 'you have come back into my life for such a time as this.' She reminded me that it was from the book of Esther. I needed no prompting as I have a movie I show my grandtwins that depicts the story, complete with lyrics to complement the plot. When I think of the Hebrew children and the events transpiring during the prophetic periods, I contemplate on the oracles sent by God. Presently, we are considering Ezekial. Enroute from a family re-union the topic turned to the bible. Looking back on the conversation, I should have bridled my tongue but hind sight is always 20-20. I blurted out how the books of the prophets are often neglected in the pulpit. And Revelation is all but a lost cause. As we cover the seventh chapter we should be mindful that it correlates with Rev. 18 and 19. It basically speaks of the end. Ezekial is again called "Son of Man." I will leave it to you to read the brief chapter that reveals God's intent to destroy the idols and the people who worshipped them. Most people don't want to hear such a message. They want their ears tickled and told how God loves and forgives. And He does. But He also punishes. Don't forget that. Today's affirmation: Matthew 6:25-28 says, Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Tuesday, July 13, 2010

 

There have been many threats issued during our study of the prophets. Exactly when they were carried through has been a point of confusion for me. Sometimes when the man of God is warning the people, I think they are being destroyed. For example, with Ezekial, the Son of Man spent five years, from 591 to 586 B.C bringing a number of denunciations against Judah for its idolatry, false prophets and corrupt leaders. Some of the Israelites are in captivity. Ezekial and Daniel are in Babylon. The northern tribe is elsewhere. And there are still some remaining in Judah who think all is well. I hope I deciphered that adequately. It is Judah that is presently of concern. This is why it is difficult to study the prophets without examining its historical background. It is shallow to do so. Beginning with chapter eight, verses one through four, we find Ezekial being taken to Jerusalem. But not the usual way. He is transformed there by God. Theologians argue this point. Some think Ezekial had a vision. Dr. McGee thinks differently. After reading the scripture I agree with Dr. McGee.  I'll examine some of the actions of Ezekial that could not be executed through a vision, later. Chapter eight reveals that, In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came upon me there. I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. Some of the details were mentioned earlier, you may recall. Some of you may consider this to be fantasy, my friends. But others in the bible have also experienced such events. Elijah, the prophet, is an example. Verses 5-18 explain detestable things the Lord has shown Ezekial. He was brought to the entrance of the court. There he was shown a hole in the wall. Scripture says, He said to me, "Son of man, now dig into the wall." So I dug in the wall and saw a doorway there. Now, it is unlikely that God would direct him to dig during a vision. That is a physical act. Please read the detestable things taking place in Judah. I will mention the most horrific. They were bowing down to the sun_in the temple with their backs positioned toward  it and their faces toward the east. Later, in chapter nine he had another experience that may seem surreal. He encountered angels. Do you believe in them, my friends?  He saw a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. The Lord called to him and said, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." These would become the remnant, or those marked for salvation. Let us make sure that we are marked, as they, for salvation, my friends.  Those with the man were directed to go through the city and kill, without showing pity and compassion. With such scripture as this, it appears as though it occurred at that time. But, later we will find Ezekial returning home. Chapter ten speaks of the glory of God and his visible presence. Verse one says, I looked and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubims (angels). The Lord said to the man clothed in linen, "Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city. Then the Lord commanded the man in linen. Please read 10:1-22 for details. There is information here that parallels what took place earlier when Ezekial saw the wheels by the Kebar River. The explanation of their departure is akin to the four gospels, according to Dr. McGee. Chapter eleven deals with two subjects: the judgment of corrupt leaders and the promise of restoration. There is always a remnant. And this scripture is no different. Chapter eleven, fourteen through twenty-one speak of a happier issue. The Lord said, "...although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countires,  for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone. I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again..."  Chapter eleven concludes with Ezekial's return to the Abib. Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the the God of Israel was above them. The glory of the Lord went up from within  the city and stopped above the mountain east of it. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God. This description seems to support those who consider Ezekial's experience to be visionary unless consumed in its entirety. Especially, the scripture that says he was lifted between heaven and earth. Today's affirmation: May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, July 15, 2010

 

Ezekial may have behaved as one who is mentally ill, but there was method to his madness. Reflect, for a moment, upon some of the things the Lord directed him to do. He rested on his sides while tied with ropes. He cooked his food on the fire from cow manure. The Son of Man cut his hair and divided it into three parts. Would you have believed him to be a prophet of the Most High? Indeed not. Especially when you are engaged in idol worship. They must have thought him to be a mad man. My friends, many still question my sanity. If the truth were told, I am more sane in the middle of the night than many are at midday. And so was Ezekial. He was following orders. He was making a point. But the Israelites just didn't get it. Nor did they wish to. Today the twelfth through fourteenth chapters are considered. And we find Ezekial continuing his enactments that were suppose to be wake up calls for the Hebrew children. You, too, my friend are receiving a wake up call through my humble submissions. Do you also consider me mad or just refuse to get the message? Ezk. 12:1-6 begin with a phrase that will often be repeated: "The word of the Lord came to me:" My friends, what I write you are also given to me through inspiration. I am a forgiven sinner who wants to help others who are engaged in "active" depression. I am experiencing it "inactively." It doesn't disappear. It becomes dormant. Life circumstances can resurrect it. Especially those that are stressful. Let us continue with verses 1-16 which read, The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. Dr. McGee refers to Israel as the microcosim of the world. We are, in  many ways like the nation of Israel. Even to the extent of idol worship. Either formally or subtly with our love of money and stuff. Continuing, "Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry  them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel." Now, I am sure there were some who solved the riddle. Others ignored it. Why? Beause they were rebellious. Later the last king of Israel is referenced. It alludes to his blindess as part of his punishment. The next dramatic rendition demonstrates anxiety over the food. Verses 17-20 tell how Ezekial trembled and shuddered while engaged in eating and drinking. What is God telling them here? That they will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything... All of these enactments are directed towards Judah. Ezekial is already among those taken captive. The reason for such action is that false prophets still prophesyed the well being of Judah. And those in the clutches of the Babylonians thought they would be released. The thirteenth chapter speaks of the prophetesses. In other words, the women. Please read verses 17-23. The editor of THE DAILY BIBLE highlights the fact that the people continued idolatry while seeking God's will from the prophets. They were playing church, my friends. I am going to encourage you to read the remainder of the fourteenth chapter later. Today's affirmation: I have had some good times; and I have had some hills to climb. But all of my good days, out weigh my bad days. I won't complain. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen.Amen.


NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: LIFE EVENTS HAVE PRECIPITATED MY POSTING PRAYERS ON A MORE IRREGULAR BASIS. PLEASE CHECK DAILY AND, IN MOST CASES, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. I MUST LEARN TO BE KIND TO MYSELF AS THE JOURNEY TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS A LONG ONE, BUT IS WITHIN SIGHT. AND, WITH GOD'S HELP AND YOUR PRAYERS, WE WILL GET THERE TOGETHER. 

 

Submitted Friday, July 16, 2010

 

Ezekial has moved from concrete to the abstract in his methodology. When I was a young student, I hated Shakespeare. I just didn't get it. Then, I began to understand the unspoken messages. In other words, I learned the value of figurative language. As a student of the bible, I continue to do so. In the next few chapters, we will study messages that foretell the destruction of Judah. This will be accomplished through three allegories or symbols. The first shows Judah as a useless vine to be burned. The New Testament relates Jesus using a similar parable. The second compares Judah to that of a prostitute. And, yet even worse that the average whore. The third allegory uses two eagles and a vine to call attention to the personal ruin of King Zedekiah. Beginning with chapter fifteen, verses 1-8 we find Ezekial again validating his messages by saying: The word of the Lord came to me. In the first symbolic message he speaks of the uselessness of the wood taken from a vine. It reads, "Therefore this is what the Sovreign Lord says: As I have given the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest as fuel for the fire, so will I treat the people living in Jerusalem..." Then we find another representation in the sixteenth chapter. Dr. McGee considers this significant_very significant. The Lord speaks of the ancestry of the nation of Israel. "...your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite..." The passage tells how the Lord rescued the tiny nation and made a convenant with them. But, they began to trust in their beauty. Scripture goes on to describe how they fell into idolatry. They were compared to a prostitute and an adulerous wife. Please investigate further for the full flavor of the written word. Further in chapter sixteen is a reference Dr. McGee says is often used by members of cults. I will quote it. Verses 53-58 says, "'However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and  your fortunes along with them, so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have in giving them comfort..." The scripture continues, but the point of the matter is that it does not support restitutionalism. It refers to the Israel as a nation. That is the interpretation given by Dr. McGee. Chapter seventeen speaks of the symbol of the eagle representing Babylon and Egypt and also gives details of the reign of Zedekiah. I  will ask you to read the eighteenth chapter. However, the introduction presented in my bible of choice does a beautiful job of explaining how individuals are responsible for their problems and will be blamed accordingly. Today's affirmation: I am looking for my thorny crown. This  prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, July 18, 2010

 

I attend requiems more often than I desire. In my culture, a funeral is a big deal. It is a performance, to an extent. At least for the benefit of the survivors. Your choice of funeral homes is significant. 'Where did they take the body?' is often asked. The immediate family rides in the limousines. And, God forbid if a family member of any importance is excluded from the obituary. The order of service varys little among funeral directors. Neither do the songs. The melodies selected are important. And when the deceased's favorite song is rendered, the family laments. They are more like dirges than songs. Flower senders are recognized with their display held high for all to see. The tiny ones as well. If you are cheap you will place the flowers at the time you attend the requiem. Traditional wailing has ceased, resulting from exposure to other cultures. Ezekial 19 of today's submission features a lament for the kings taken into captivity. The first half bemoans the princes and the latter the land. I will request that you read it later.  Its introduction in my bible of choice is interesting. It reads, As a lasting reminder of how the wicked are brought down, Ezekial writes a lament for two of Judah's kings who were taken by Judah's oppressors. It has been 17 years since Pharaoh Neco led King Jehoahaz away to captivity in Egypt, and some six years since Nebuchadnezzar brought a subdued King Jehoiakin to Babylon. Their capture and exile are witness to Judah's vulnerability to God's judgment. On rare occasions I will quote the editor of THE DAILY BIBLE, especially when I am unable to do so with equal quality. Such is the case with chapter twenty. It reads, In the following year, 590 B.C., God once again chastises Israel, citing their long history of rebellion and his repeated reluctance to bring ultimate punishment against them. He reminds Israel that they continue to be as sinful as their fathers, but that the day is coming when God's chosen ones will be an obedient and holy people. The scripture in this chapter is familiar. So, the introduction will suffice. I would like to direct your attention to the conclusion of verses 30-38 when God reveals that He is not yet finished with the nation of Israel. Please read chapter twenty for its full message. Chapter twenty one addresses the final judgment. And a warning is given to Zedekiah. It ends with these words: A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightfully belongs; to him I will give it. This references the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter twenty-two enumerates the sins of the nation. It, too, is familiar. Today's affirmation: I will release my soul from its captivity to secrets I conceal. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, may friends. Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Tuesday, July 20, 2010

 

My pastor is cool. When he walks into the sanctuary he blends in with the crowd. No robe. No tie. No suit. More like Jesus. He usually dons himself with a sport shirt and casual slacks and shoes. His sermons are different as well. He doesn't try to tickle your ears. It is what it is. And he teaches verse by verse from the scriptures. Last Sunday he made a statement that stuck with me. He said something to the effect that most in the audience fall asleep while reading the bible because they don't understand it. And that is true. I attempt to take the time to comprehend it so that I can present it to you in a simple, interesting manner. In Ezekial chapter twenty-three God uses an allegory in such a way that the casual reader might miss the point just as did the Israelites. It is a powerful exposure of two promiscuous sisters, representing Israel and Judah. By now, many of you may be thinking, 'why doesn't God just get to the point?' For the same reason that his people don't grasp his utterances. Beginning with verse one, it says, The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother. They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth. In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed. The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem..." Do you get it? God isn't being risque; He is trying to get their attention. Parts of this chapter are so graphic that I will request that you read it for yourself. When God uses the word daughters, He is referencing the northern and southern tribes. God is their mother. And the nations committed  harlotry when they worshipped idols and turned to others for support. Verses 1-13 continue: "Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians_warriors clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen." Without help it is difficult to decipher this. I can't do it alone. That is why I engage in research and use a study bible as well as the assistance of Dr. J. Vernon McGee. There are others, but Dr. McGee believes, as I, in the historical approach. It was his dream to edit such a bible. I think he would be pleased with my bible of choice. When many think of harlotry, they envision a man and a woman involved in illicit sexual conduct. But, here God is demonstrating that it is not always the case. What sort of prostitution are you engaged in, my friends? To whom have you offered your soul? In verses 14-27 the Chaldeans are potrayed. It reads, "But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans portrayed in red, with belts around their waists and flowing turbans..." The Chaldeans are Babylonians and we have studied about Judah's exile there. Continuing, "...So I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt anymore. For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to hand you over to those  you hate, to those you turned away from in disgust. They will deal  with you in hatred and take away everything you have worked for. They will leave you naked and bare, and the shame of your prostitution will be exposed..." Today's affirmation: In what ways am I selling out? Is it through my conduct or business practices? Or am I involved in blatant illicit behavior. Women: If a man doesn't think enough of you to marry you, why do you think enough of him to engage in illicit conduct or have his children? Men: Why do you soil the very garment you claim to love? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, July 22, 2010

 

Recently my husband and I had a spat. No. Actually, it was more like a big fight. I asked him to move out. I was determined to divorce him. Within the day in which he was absent, I had accounts switched to my name and changed the code on the alarm system. I was serious. But, my brother was in town from Michigan and was living with my husbands's sister, his mother-in-law and my sister-in-law. My husband was also residing there during our one-day separation. After spending the night watching movies and talking with Jim, my brother called me. The matter terminated with a big pow-wow. My brother shared circumstances he and his wife had experienced during their twenty-nine year marriage. With my spouse in tow, we returned home. We worked through some issues and we are happier than ever. When my girl friend heard of the matter, she responded,  'that was sudden wasn't it?' It wasn't. Things had been brewing in my mate's mind for a while. I told her that few things happen suddenly. They fester and then they explode. That is exactly what took place in the twenty-fourth chapter of Ezekial. Things came to a boil and exploded. We will revisit second Kings for a while. The twenty fourth chapter, verse 20 tells of Zedekiah's rebellion against Babylon. The twenty-fifth chapter, verse one says, So in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They camped outside the city and built siege works all around it. So. Finally, it happened. The capture of Jerusalem took place just as had been predicted. The false prophets were wrong. Ezk. 24:1-2 (588 B.C.) tell us, In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, record this day, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day. Further, in verses 3-14 the parable of the cooking pot is explained. Please read it. Then, Ezk. 24:15-24 tells of the death of  the prophet's wife and how God would not allow him to mourn. Do you find yourselves in this situation, my friends? Are you hurting and can't mourn? Have you lost a loved one and haven't worked through the grieving process? The same friend who questioned the suddeness of my marital problems also informed me that my submissions are more like bible lessons and less like prayers to help the depressed. Recent scriptures have been from those of the prophets. It is hard to weave words of encouragement for you, my friends. At least directly. God's Word, whether from more narrative chapters or prophecy, help those who are depressed. The entire bible offers hope. And that is why it is important to study it in its entirety. To choose soothing scriptures runs contrary to God's purpose for our lives. He is not a mamby-pamby God of hope all of the time. And you need to get the entire tapestry of His Word. Today's affirmation: I must be a realist. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen. 

 

Submitted Sunday, July 25, 2010

 

Most people skip merrily along through life doing as they darn well please. And with little remorse. They cheat on their taxes; play the lottery; smoke, drink excessively or worse, fornicate and/or co-habitate. You name it they do it. Then, sickness or problems befall them. And, suddenly they seek out God. Sometimes their efforts end with their troubles. The depression lifts. The body heals or the finances improve. In the New Testament there is a parable about a man who hired workers for his vineyard. Those working from the start were paid the same wages as those who came later. Moral? You must endure the race and reach the finish line. Those entering the race along the way and finish will also reap their just reward. Sort of depressing isn't it? In today's submission we will return to Jerusalem and the prophet Jeremiah. Do you recall the weeping prophet? Well, he remains in Jerusalem. Some may say, 'I thought they were destroyed?' Well, they are under siege headed for destruction. This is true of some of you, my friends. Think about it. Jer. 21:12 reads, The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent to him Paashur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said: "Inquire now of the Lord for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us." Even casual readers realize how hard God has tried to warn them. But, now that the handwriting is on the wall, the last king of Israel wants help. Are you like that, my friends? Let us discover how God responded. Verses 3-7: But Jeremiah answered them, "Tell Zedekiah, 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather  them inside this city. I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in anger and fury and great wrath. I will strike down those who live in this city_both men and animals_and they will die of a terrible plague. After that, declares the Lord, I will hand over Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who seek their lives. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.' And in verses 8-10 the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death...' These two are before you as well, my friends. Will you choose life or death? Will you choose a peaceful existence or a life filled with depressed thoughts? The editor of my bible of choice brings out the point that Zedekiah chooses not to surrender. In the thirty-fourth chapter the Lord tells the last king that he will die a natural death in Babylon. But he will be blinded. Continuing in the thirty-second chapter, verses 1-5 we find Jeremiah being confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah. It reads in part: Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisioned him there, saying, "Why do you prophesy as you do?" But Jeremiah keeps on keeping on. Jer. 32:6-12 find him purchasing land. He must have gotten a good deal as the city was beseiged. God was showing them that they would return. Please continue to read Chapter thirty-two where it explains the promise of restoration. A friend of mine told me, 'girl, you are all over the bible' and I guess this is no different. Today's affirmation comes from Victor at my church: Lord, as I run this race I must be aware that I will not receive the prize while I am yet running. I must endure until the end. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you  receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: I DO APOLOGIZE FOR THE SPORADIC SUBMISSIONS, BUT I HAVE PREVIOUSLY INFORMED YOU THAT LIFE EVENTS AFFECT THE REGULARITY OF MY EFFORTS. I WILL CONTINUE TO POST PRAYERS AND HOPE THAT YOU WILL CHECK DAILY FOR THEM. SOMETIMES I MUST WAIT FOR THE DIRECTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. THE FREQUENCY OF MY WRITINGS WILL NOT BE SO IRREGULAR THAT IT DISCOURAGES YOU FROM CHECKING THE WEBSITE. AND, IT IS MY PRAYER THAT THEY WILL BE WORTH THE WAIT. IN THE MEANTIME, READ YOUR BIBLE OR REVIEW SUBMISSIONS I HAVE PREVIOUSLY POSTED. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

 

Submitted Tuesday, July 27, 2010

 

Unlike the Israelites, my one day separation from my husband was provoked. He said some nasty things. But, I over reacted. In a previous submission I candidly confessed that I asked him to depart. At the time I didn't have all of the pieces to the puzzle. I was being attacked by Satan. He couldn't get me one way, so he tried another. And his little scheme almost worked. I have been cautioning you of his wiles, yet I was clueless as to what he was doing to me. I was being rebellious. I have referenced this quality in God's people. In fact, in the middle of my posting  this prayer my computer froze and I was unable to enter the site after repeated attempts. And, the strangest thing happened. One of my closest relatives' e-mail address appeared. I am going to forego this submission as I need time for prayer. Today's affirmation: Luke 4:1-13: Then Jesus, being filled with  the Holy Spirit...was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil...And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'" Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to  me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.'" Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you, and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God,'" Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Editor's Comment: When God is for you, who shall be against you? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

Submitted Thursday, July 29, 2010

 

I often tweak my writing in search of errors. The website is equipped with spell check, but I have yet to master it. I am no longer fearful of losing material, however, since I have learned to save. I shall never forget when I deleted an entire page. Satan was behind it, as I didn't activate the button to do so; there was no logical reason for it. Well, he is at it again. This is the second time I have written this submission. It was deleted. And, even though the page remained in tact, the prayer was destroyed. I use the name Satan rather than devil, as it identifies him as a real person rather than a fantasy. So, when you read these prayers/lessons, be aware that they are written under pressure. I am not discouraged because I think there are many of you out there who are loyal readers. Many have never read the bible, not to mention studied it. Some do not attend church. I realize that my style is unique. But, I think the personal stories and quirky introductions make it interesting. I am hoping to present you with a Christmas present by completing the Old Testament and entering the New by the holiday. We shall wait and see. Chapters thirty through thirty-three, says Dr. McGee, are triumphant passages. Today we will begin with chapter thirty-three; then, on to thirty and thirty-one. These presentations are akin to a pineapple upside down cake. I'm no cook, so I can't explain exactly how it's made, but I surmise the pineapples are placed first and end up on top after baking. The reason for the unusual approach, as you may well know, is because of the historical presentation used by THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Chapter thirty-three finds Jeremiah still confined in the courtyard of the guard, and the word of the Lord came to him a second time. Encouragement is the theme of the message. Jer. 33:6-9 reads, "'Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. Joy and prosperity will return. Jer. 30:4-11 includes scripture that references the Great Tribulation. Remember the candy bar I told you I ate as a child? It was called now and later. This is what occurs here. Scripture reads, "'In that day,' declares the Lord Almighty, I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them...; it ends with I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.' Verses 12-15 explain how sins brought them into exile. This returns us to the current affairs. Chapter thirty-one is known as the "I will" chapter, according to Dr. McGee. The words are used fifteen times. In verses 1-14 it begins with "At that time," declares the Lord, "I will be the God of all the clans of Israel and they will be my people...  Continuing, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Most interesting to me was God's speaking of Ephraim as his first born son. Ephraim is another name for Israel. More encouragement is given in verses 18-25 of chapter thirty-one. "I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning; 'you disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and  humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth..." Do you feel this way, my friends? I certainly do. I am humiliated by the disgrace of my youth. Today's affirmation: I will not carry the burden of my disgrace forever. This prayer we pray in the name of the the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen.
Amen.

 

Submitted Sunday, August 1, 2010

 

Can you deny that a special relationship exist between Hebrew children and God? It does. Whether you like it or not. God loved them. They were a small nation. Jehovah didn't choose the mighty and the strong. He made a covenant with them. A promise, if you will. They made Him angry, yet He forgave them...over and over again. He performed miracles on their behalf. He helped them champion battles. He gave them a king. And He said there would always be a royal representative from the line of David. Has he abandoned them? Have they left Him? When He provided them with another leader from the line of Judah, they wanted to make him a political deliverer. But, God didn't want that. Yet, the Messiah provided them, reigns at God's right hand. His chosen people are still rebelling. They refuse to accept Jesus as their Messiah. Some do, but most don't. Regardless, Dr. McGee believes with all his heart that God has not finished with the nation of Israel. I concur. There is a plant known as a wandering Jew, and in many ways it describes the people. Albeit they are settled in a land they claim as theirs, they are still a troubled nation. There is no peace nor security. But, Dr. McGee thinks they will come someday. Presently, our attention continues to be focused on Jeremiah. Starting in the twenty-third chapter, covering verses one through eight, we find what is identified as Jeremiah's first discourse. It begins, "Woe to the shepherds  who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!" Do you consider yourself to be in a similar situation, my friends? You are God's property and your mind may be scattered by issues confronting you. In verses one through four, attention turns to the regathering of the remnant. Now, this could highlight the present situation or the future. Situations like this make the interpretation of prophecy challenging. And, that is why I consult others, and look to the Holy Spirit to guide me in that quest for enlightenment. In verses five through six, we find the following scripture: "The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord of Our Righteousness. Restoration will be under the Messiah, Jesus_the Christ. The Second Discourse is found in chapter thirty-three. Verses 14-16 reaffirms the covenant. Please read it, along with verses 19-22. In the Third Discourse, beginning in verse twenty-seven, a new covenant is mentioned. I think this speaks of a future time: "The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them." Dr. McGee says this covenant will be engraved upon their hearts. It will be an everlasting covenant. Today's affirmation comes from Pastor Mike: I must stand before God. It will be an audience of one. I must understand that His opinion matters. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Submitted Sunday, August 8, 2010

 

I think I have many "frenemies." Do  you not recognize the word? It is a combination of friend and enemy. It is not uncommon. It happens to many. The nation of Israel was confronted with it. And many contemporary countries are struck by it more than they realize. This submission will be a quickie. I am going to trust that you will familiarize yourselves with Ezk. 26-28. The nation of Tyre is addressed and judged. Tyre was a commercial nation. They were of the lineage of Phoenicia. And Sidon was nearby. Both were to meet their doom. Some of you, my friends, may feel doomed. But you are not. It only seems that way. Joy will come in the morning. You may continue to be confronted with problems but you will have joy. There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is determined by circumstances, but joy comes through the grace of God. I suppose some of you may wonder why I am glossing over this material? For one thing, there are some things you need to read for yourselves. It doesn't mean I consider the material redundant, albeit it has been mentioned by other prophets. Then, why is it even included in this bible? REPEAT AFTER ME: PROPHETS HAD CONTEMPORARIES. THEY LIVED AT THE SAME PERIOD OF TIME. THEREFORE, SOME OF THE MATERIAL MAY OVERLAP. Do you not remember the analogy given about the Senate and House of Representatives? Don't they speak and consider the same issues? VOILA! Today's affirmation: Lord, this is another day. I didn't do so well yesterday. I may not have pleased you. Please forgive me and give me another chance. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

 


Submitted Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let us play a game of connect the dots. Actually, we have been engaged in it for quite some time as we assume a historical stance when presenting the Holy Scriptures. Today we will consider chapters thirty-seven and thirty-eight. At this point, we find Nebuchadnezzar temporaily withdrawing his forces in order to push the Egyptian army back to its borders. Egypt had hoped to come to Judah's rescue in order to keep Judah as a buffer state between Babylonia and its own territory. But Babylonia prevails and returns to finish off Jerusalem. Chapter thirty-seven begins with Zedekiah, the king of Judah, inquiring of the prophet. The king was a vassal of the Babylonian empire. He was their puppet and his strings were about to be pulled. Jeremiah was roaming around at will, but his freedom would be short-lived. He was accused of  treason and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison. He was placed into a valuted cell in a dungeon where he remained for a long time. My friends, some of you may feel as if you have been imprisoned for a long time. Things have a way of working themselves out. You must be patient and the bible says patience is the fruit of tribulation. Zedekiah helped Jeremiah. But he did so with an ulterior motive. He wanted to inquire of the Lord. It is like some of you, my friends, you inquire of God but fail to do His will. Verses 18-21 find the weeping prophet asking, "What crime have I committed against you or your officials of this people, that you have put me in prison?.." Have you wondered, my friends, why you have been afflicted with depression of anxiety? Chapter thirty-eight finds Jeremiah being put into a muddy cistern. But verses 7-13 explain how Ebed-Melech, a Cushite, and official in the royal palace rescued him. My friends, you will be rescued as well. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not look to your own understanding. Later in chapter thirty-eight, we find Zedekiah sneaking about in order to inquire of the Lord from the prophet. He warned Jeremiah not to reveal their tete-a-tete. Jeremiah kept his little secret. And Jer. 38:28 finds him in the courtyard of the guard where he remained until the day Jerusalem was captured. Today's affirmation: Your tomorrow may very way begin today. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 


Submitted Thursday, August 12, 2010

 

London bridge is falling down. Falling down. Falling down. London bridge is falling down. My fair lady. This children's rhyme has a realistic history. There actually was a London bridge and it really fell to invaders of England. But it was rebuilt. So it is with the city of Jerusalem. It has finally met its fate. IT IS FALLING. All of the predictions made by the prophets had veracity after all. But, like London bridge, it too will be built up again. In addition to my prelude, I am going to rely upon the introduction featured in my bible of choice for this section reflecting 2Kings 25:2-21, with a smathering of Jeremiah 39. The editor writes, The end has finally come. Plagued by famine, drought, and pestilence from within, and besieged by the Babylonian hordes from without, the City of David finally falls. The historical record is mercifully brief in its account, as if the shame of it all forbids greater mention. The essential details are these; the wall is breached in the fourth month of 586 B.C.; when Zedekiah and his troops flee the city by night, they are quickly captured; a month later the glorious temple of Solomon and the royal palace are razed; the remaining noblemen are killed and temple treasures are taken as booty; and, over a period of four years, hundreds of people are taken captive and deported to Babylon. With the fall now an undeniable reality, the final chapter of the glorious era of Israel comes to a close, and the prophets of God are regrettably vindicated. Ezekial in particular is proved correct as to the final fate of Zedekiah and the exact manner in which it happens. 2Kgs 25:2-4 reads, By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year, the city was broken down. The next two verses tell how the king and his army fled but the Babylonian army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. The sixth and seventh verses express how the king was humiliated. Scripture says, He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him. There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes; he also killed all the officials of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah's eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon, where he put him in prison till the day of his death. Further, the next two verses reveal, On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. I encourage further reading of chapter twenty-five, particularly verses 13-17 that relate the treasures that were taken from the temple. The good thing that happened was that the land enjoyed its sabbath as  most of the people were either killed or deported. My friends, you can consider your depression as your time of sabbath. You will be cultivated again just as the land. Verse twenty-two talks about the selection of Gedaliah as governor over the remnant. And Jeremiah was spared. He could do as he wished. He chose to remain with his people. Today's affirmation: Am I living in denial? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Sunday, August 15, 2010

 

Don't you just hate it when someone utters: 'I told you so?' And it stings even more when they don't say the words but have the intention etched on their faces. We will consider the book of LAMENTATIONS. Credited with the authorship, Jeremiah laments for the nation rather than gloats. He could very well have chanted: NAAAAAAAAA NAAAAAAAAAA NA NA NA. He would have been justified. It wasn't his nature any more than it is God's. Jehovah could very well have been revengeful following the melt down of Adam and Eve. Rather than take such action, He sent His Son to redeem us.  We will consider the first two chapters of Lamentations. Launching with the first chapter, verses 1-6 we find, How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave. Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies. My friends, you may experience similar emotions. You may  weep bitterly at night with tears upon your cheeks. And you may feel deserted by your friends and family. Jeremiah was known as the 'weeping prophet' and he had much over which to weep. He stood alone in his warning of damnation for Jerusalem and he received punishment in return for having done so. Lamentations is written as a poem. It may not appear so as it is long and without rhyme. Continuing, Her foes, have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The Lord has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe. You will notice that figurative language is employed in order to drive home the point. Verses 7-11 feature, Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns away. Further, "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the Lord brought on me in the day of his fierce anger..Don't you feel like this, my friends? That your suffering is unique? It is not. There are many like you. Towards the end of verses 12-17 Jeremiah personalizes the poem with: "This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed." You, my friends, can prevail! The second chapter says, Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of the Daughter of Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonor. There is no dishonor, my friends, in having depression. It is an illness like any other. One that you can overcome. Today's affirmation: Sometimes I must experience pain in order for God to get my attention. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Tuesday, August 17, 2010

 

Requiems are not intended to be fun-filled. But, they are social affairs and that cannot be denied. You see folk at funerals you haven't encountered in years. And many are beyond recognition due to the ravages of age or illness. Isaac is not like that. He looks as he did in high school and his demeanor is the same. His face aglows with happiness in spite of his share of problems. One thing that I remember about him is his greeting. He will approach you; gets your attention and utter, 'I love you and there is nothing you can do about it.' This constitutes my segue into the third and fourth chapters of Lamentations. I think this greeting I attribute to my high school mate can be one that is used by God himself. Can't you just imagine His saying this to the little nation He called His own? Even after chastisement was inflicted? And He says it you, my friends. Especially my non-believers. 'I love you and there is nothing you can do about it.' The chapter to be considered is an acrostic poem. It is characterized by the verses of each stanza beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and the verses within each stanza beginning with the same letter. In a simplistic form, teachers used these as instructional aids: A IS FOR APPLE, B IS FOR BOY. You may still remember a few. Beginning with verses 22-33 of chapter three: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I can just hear a former church member, Donald, singing those lyrics. GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS. And, friends, He is great in faithfulness. If only you will reach out to Him. Continuing, The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Yes, my friends, wait quietly for His salvation. For He will rescue you from the pit of depression, if you will only wait and not tire out. Further it states: For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will  show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief into the children of men. Do you comprehend that? Read it again. The acrostic continues, Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamaties and good things come? Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins. The poem continues: Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger they waste away for lack of food from the field. Now, of course, this describes what is happening to Judah at the time of the siege, but it can also be applied to you, my friends. Some of you think you will be better off dead. Many of you have gotten yourselves in the thicket of financial woes resulting from living above your means. And, rather than accept a more simplistic lifestyle and drop down a notch or two, you would rather be dead. Is that not true? Chapter four ends:  Rejoice and be glad, O Daughter of Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked. We have discussed the judgments upon these nations. And you too, my friends, will be judged. Embedded in Chapter five, verses 1-18: Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. Some of you engage in illicit business practices in order to stay afloat. I would re-think that habit if I were you. Today's affirmation: Dear Lord, please turn my mourning into dancing. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 


Submitted Thursday, August 19, 2010

 

If only I could have taken flight as a bird during those years of intense depression. I tried, truly I did. At every opportunity I was in bed and asleep. I have slept for weekends and the duration of my summer break from my job as a teacher. It seemed as if I felt best when I was in bed. Of course, I was running away from my issues. I can recall my morning routines prior to dashing off to work. I would bang the alarm several times before awakening in a haze. I confess that I have gone to work a few times without a shower. The last step before arousing was to slide on my knees and beseech the Lord to help me drag myself out of bed so that I could greet the day and whatever that entailed. But, few knew of my troubled mornings. A dear friend, Steve, would sometimes have to bang on my bedroom window to get me moving. My smile I pasted on for the world revealed none of these woes. The remnant that remained after the invasion by the Babylonians wanted to flee from their predicament  into Egypt. And Chapters forty until the end of the book of Jeremiah reveal what happened to them. Those remaining were the infirm, criminals and others who were not considered worthy of being deported. And then there was Jeremiah who chose to stay. Gedaliah was appointed as the governor of this so-called rift raff. But not for long. It seems that leadership had its liabilities. Isn't that true today as well. The news is filled with heads of state and government who fell by the wayside. And many of you, my friends, are leaders. But you are so often weighed down with anxieties and depression that you can hardly keep up the facade. Ishmael killed the governor. Do you recall that name? Ishmael, the senior, was the first born of Abraham. They went on to procreate and create their own religion as well. Gedaliah was warned that his life was in danger, but he failed to listen. And he paid the ultimate price for his stubborness. How about you, my friends? Sometimes you are so obstinate that you refuse help from the mental health community, not to mention God Himself. Read chapter forty-one for more details regarding the murder of the governor and seventy others. But Johanan and his gang caught up with Ishmael albeit he escaped along with eight of his men. Chapter forty-two through the finale has a familiar theme. I don't think you will be surprised to discover the people rebelling once more. Even after all that has occurred. They again turn to the prophet for advice. Jeremiah petitions the Lord on their behalf. Ensconced within Jer. 42:7-18 we find the Lord's response to Jeremiah's petition: 'If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you  and restore you to your land.' Continuing,: "However, if you say, 'We will not stay in this land,' and so disobey the Lord your God, and if you say, 'No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,' then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die...'Jeremiah is called a liar and they would not listen to him. The people continued with their idolotry: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine." Do you understand that reasoning? Today's affirmation: I will not serve another in order to take a short cut to comfort. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Sunday, August 22, 2010

 

Today's submission will be different. I am recommending another website for self help to those who are depressed, anxious or stressed. It is unlike this one, of course. Please visit BringChange2Mind.org. It will ask that you register and it is a free site. It will give you an opportunity to get facts; talk with someone if you are suicidal or chat with someone who has the illness. There is also a link for my African American and Hispanic friends who are least likely to seek help. Please navigate the site completely. There are links to organizations who can help. I found this little nugget while reading an article in GUIDEPOSTS MAGAZINE, an organization with whom I partner. There is a hyperlink directly to their prayer request line on this website. So, you have many sources for discreet help. Many of you cannot afford to make known your illness. I understand that. I had no choice as my experiences unfolded in full view of others. I was blessed in that I was allowed to retain my job and was not ostracized. Please take advantage of this site. You can even tell your story. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY! Will continue with regular submissions very soon, but thought this was critical.


Submitted Tuesday, August 24, 2010

 

Building sand castles at the beach is a rite of passage in my neck of the woods. In South Florida children and adults construct them. You need just the right amount of water and sand. First, you start out just covering someone up from toes to neck with sand. Then you progress into building your castles. You must be careful how closely you come to the shoreline or your time and effort will be lost in the water. Many of my friends may feel as though they are up to their necks in sand. Or problems, as it were. The people in Jerusalem felt this way. Twenty years have passed since the first captives deported from Judah and the exile was begun. It is evidently some six months before one of the survivors of the slaughter finally makes his way to the prophet Ezekiel in Babylonia. Ezk. 33: 21,22 speak of the fall of the city, It says, In the twelfth year of our exile in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, "The city has fallen!" Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent. This took place around 586 B. C. Continuing at verses 23-26: Then the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying 'Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.'Therefore say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? The next few verses tell how God will make the land a desolate waste. Verses 30-33 end: "When all this comes true_and it surely will_then they will know that a prophet was among them. Israel's spiritual leaders have led the people to slaughter, but God is going to gather his scattered people back in Palestine (as Canaan will come to be known), and He will one day raise up a Saviour for his people_the Messiah_who will be the Good Shepherd. In the first ten verses of chapter thirty-four the leaders are held accountable. 'This is what the Sovreign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? Is this not true of some spiritual leaders today, my friends? Some of you are cognizant of this behavior and are discouraged from attending church. These faux shepherds will be held responsible, and so will you if you allow them to stumble you. Continuing, This is what the Sovreign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. Ezk 34:11-16  tell us that the nation will be restored. Within its content is found this sentence: I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. Verses 20-24 speak of the Good Shepherd. It reads, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken. This is controversial and I do not care to interpret it. Dr. McGee seems to think that David will have a role in the events of the last days. Then, chapter thirty-five reiterates Edom's punishment.  The people and the land cannot be separated. That point was brought to fruition by Dr. McGee. Please continue to read to the thirty seventh chapter. Today's affirmation: I am not Peter Pan. I must grow up someday. Right, Tinker Bell? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Thursday, August 26, 2010

 

Them bones, them bones, them dry bones. Them bones, them bones, them dry bones. Them bones, them bones, them dry bones. I hear the words of the Lord. This entry will span three chapters, thirty-seven through thirty-nine. It will not be fun as some of it is apocalyptic. Usually, I divide my efforts into research, and post the submission after a period of rest. But, for this prayer it is hot off the press. It is too confusing to allow my mind to congeal. Chapter thirty-seven begins with the vision of dry bones. God brings Ezekial by the spirit to a valley of lifeless bones. Most Christians have heard this scripture but never completely understood it. Verses 1-14 of chapter 37: The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" Many of you, my friends are akin to dry bones. The life has oozed from  you. You are unhappy and think you will never return to your former existence. Continuing, I said, "O Sovereign Lord, you alone know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to  you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord' " Friends, breath and life will return to your life, if you have faith. Continuing, So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Some of you, my friends, function as if there were no breath in you. Breathe! Live again! It is possible. It happened in my life after twenty years of suffering and it can happen to you as well. Further, Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.' " So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them, they came to life and stood up on their feet_a vast army. What is this all about? God is saying that the nation of Israel will be restored. That there is hope for them. Another sign is to be shown to the people. Continuing in verses 15-23: The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, 'Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, 'Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him; Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. Later, '...I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms...' Then,  verses 24-28  speak of David: " 'My servant David will be king over  them, and they will all have one shepherd...' Pastor McGee again assigns a role to David in the last days but the Messiah will still be the one shepherd. The climax of Ezekial's restoration prophecies takes his hearers not only to the new kingdom of the Good Shepherd but apparently to the time when the forces of evil will be destroyed forever. Chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine are apocalytic. Beginning in verses 1-6 of chapter 38: The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, set your face against Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meschech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army...' Summarily, Dr. McGee says that this scripture references the nation of Russia and should be interpreted liguistically, geographically and philosophically. That is, in language, location and ideas. In the footnote of my bible of choice, it uses the word "Rosh" for Meshach. Dr. McGee thinks that this refers to Russia. He says that nation is the only atheistic one. Even in other instances, for example the nation of Israel, they were polytheistic (worshipped more than one God). Israel continued to serve God along with its idols. Please continue to read and see what other nuggets you can find. Today's affirmation: I am too blessed to be stressed. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Sunday, August 29, 2010

 

There are many social network websites out there. They allow you to engage in a myriad of activities. People who try hard enough and are computer savy can search you out and discover intimate details of your life. Even your religious affiliation. That is my segue into today's submission. Sometimes I ponder why we join them. Concomitantly, I also wonder why some people attend  church. In some cases, it is for the same reasons they join the social networks. They don't want to be left out. They want to, in a word, network. It is good for business. It makes them civilized. They can find a mate. In essence, they attend church, but they don't listen. Some are hearers of the word and not doers. Many spiritual leaders are sincere. Not all of them, I might add. But some really want to warn the flock and not just tickle their ears. That is what Ezekial's commision was: to serve as a watchman. For this submission, we will cover the thirty-second and thirty-third chapters. I will lean upon the introduction used by F. LaGard Smith, editor of  THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. He begins, Egypt has the dubious distinction of being singled out among the nations as an example of the forces of evil. Ezekial first brings a lament for Egypt, then assigns her a place of burial in the same grave with the hordes of evil, including Meschech and Tubal. It takes place around 585 B.C. Verses 11-16: For this is what the Soverign Lord says: "The sword of the king of Babylon will come against you. I will cause your hordes to fall by the swords of mighty men_the most ruthless of all nations. They will shatter the pride of Egypt, and all her hordes will be overthrown...When I make Egypt desolate and strip the land of everything in it, when I strike down all who live there, then they will know that I am the Lord." In verses 17-32 other nations are mentioned: "Assyria is there with her whole army; she is surrounded by the graves of all  her slain, all who have fallen by the sword...Elam is there, with all her hordes around her grave. Meshech and Tubal (Russia, parenthesis mine) are there, with all their hordes around their graves. Edom is there, her kings and all her princes; despite their power, they are laid with those killed by the sword. All the princes of the north and all the Sidonians are there; they went down with those killed by the sword..." Then chapter thirty-three speaks of Ezekial's role as watchman. Chapters 1-9 relate: The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: 'When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head...' Continuing, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do not warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. There is comfort found in verses 10-11: 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from  their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?' Continuing with the introduction of F. LaGard Smith: The response from those he is warning is predictable: they demand to know what right God has to bring punishment against Israel. Although Ezekial has already answered their arguments, he insists one last time that, although God hates the punishment which must come to the wicked, it must nevertheless come. Yet the promise is equally sure that even the wicked can be saved through sincere and righteous repentance. Today's affirmation comes from Pastor Mike, the lead pastor at my church: RECIPE FOR THE BLUES: Separate yourself from others; focus on your comfort and become a spectator. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends?


EDITOR'S LAMENTATIONS

 

Do you recall my saying my favorite prophet was Jeremiah? Probably because he is more like us, my friends. Dubbed the weeping prophet, Jeremiah's feelings were displayed on his shirt sleeve. After I posted today's submission, I was reclining in bed and had thoughts of you, my friends. Previously, I referred you to another website, BringChange2Mind.org. It was not a casual act. I know that there are many of you who are so burdened that you are close to ending it all. I recall the feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. I envision a sea of faceless individuals with these thoughts. My heart bleeds for you. I am you. For you see, with the right combination of events, I could return to those old feelings. I doubt it, however, as I am grounded in the Holy Spirit. My friends, there is nothing happening to you that won't get better in the morning, if you would only have faith. Some of you are masters at concealing these feelings. I empathize with you, as I, too, hid behind a mask. My bedroom was my sanctuary. But, I continued to attend church. I didn't give up. Please, don't give up. You have so much for which to live. There are people who love you of whom you are not aware. I am praying for you. If you are living above your means, walk away from it. It is better to sleep under a tree and have peace of mind. God is there for you, even if you don't believe in Him. Log onto the site I referenced. Living takes guts. It is easy to give up. I am pulling for you. I care about you. I love you, faceless though you are. And most importantly, God loves  you. Don't have a nice day. MAKE IT A NICE DAY.


Submitted Wednesday, September 1, 2010

 

Go along to get along. That is the behavior in which most engage. They make choices that will fit in with the current flow of things. Attire; location of houses; choice of churches; schools for their children. And, even organizations. Including the church. You join committees_you cook chicken, sweep the sanctuary and get elected to positions. Why? For sheer approval. I once did as you. I made top grades; wore the latest fashions; dated popular guys and even joined ecumenical committees, in an effort to please. In my case, I have been oblivious to the thoughts of others for a long time. But that hasn't stopped me from engaging in activities that overwhelmed and were exercises in futility. No more. And, my friends, you must adopt that same attitude regarding your illness. If it takes being singled out as "crazy" in order to get help, so be it as those calling you crazy are the truly insane. In today's submission, Chapter three of Daniel, we will find three Hebrews who went against the flow. Now, please remember that Ezekial is alive while this is taking place at the palace. Where was Daniel when his homeboys were threatened? I often thought he was involved, but apparently he was out and about the province doing what officials do. Before we begin, please be aware that this is not just a story about three boys thrown into a furnace. In fact, it isn't a narrative_it is an account. It is historical on one hand and prophetic on another. The furnace symbolizes the great tribulation. Nebuchadnezzar is the anti Christ. The three Hebrews represent the remnant of survivors and Daniel corresponds to the redeemed church. Beginning in verses one through three, King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. Continuing in the fourth through seventh verses: Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. And, you know the rest of the story. After the young men refused to do so the king became furious with rage. The king, my friends, had a mental illness. He appeared to be manic depressive with extreme mood swings. Perhaps you can see yourselves in this description. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual and verses nineteen through twenty-three tell us that he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them in the blazing furnace. But help was around the corner. The next two verses tell what transpired when the king found them unharmed: Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Dr. McGee identifies this fourth man as none other than Jesus Christ. Others think it is an angel. My friends, if God can deliver these men from a furnace heated seven times hotter than  normal, don't you think he can help you? Continuing, So Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Please complete the chapter to determine the king's reaction. My friends, you are being tried by fire, but if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you will emerge with not a hair on your head disturbed and you will come out smelling as a rose. Today's affirmation: I believe in God, but do I believe God? (from Pastor Mike, lead pastor at my church). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Thursday, September 2, 2010

 

My birth month is December, but this ministry was born this month. I marvel at the fact that God has allowed me to post this website for a year. We still have miles to cover before reaching Revelation, but look how far we've come. And I say "we" as I think there are many of you out there who remain faceless. And that is the way I desire it. I have put my heart and soul into this project. I could not do it without the Holy Spirit. I don't get verbal encouragement as those to whom I direct the prayers are anonymous. But, I know that it is God's will for me. As it says on the home page, I am lifting as I climb. I have walked the roads over which many of you are now traveling. I have learned much over the year_about the bible and about myself. There was a time when I didn't think I could do it. I have endured many technological problems. Yet, I will endure until the end. I fully intend to take you to Revelation. My son-in-law commented: "well, now that you know what you are doing, maybe you can go back and remove some of that stuff. It's not how the bible is written anyway." My friends, I write it as it happened. It may be strange to you but it makes perfect sense to me. I have tried to keep it brief and interesting, while not entertaining you. I do secretly wish that I knew exactly how many hits I have gotten on the site. However, if I can help one person, then my work has not been in vain. I am trying to light a candle. If you wish to express your appreciation for my efforts, then you can do that by sharing the website. The glory goes to God. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY!


Submitted Sunday, September 5, 2010

 

As we head towards the end of Ezekial, we make a stop over at chapters forty through forty-three. Here we find Ezekial envisoning the great temple. Prior to our launching there, I would just like to say that I, too, have a vision for you, my friends. I am in no way comparing  myself with this man of God. I am just a sinner. But, by grace I have been saved. I envision you accepting your illness for what it is_just another sort of sickness. Not unlike hypertension or diabetes. Why should you be so ashamed? I am aware that it carries a stigma. That is unfortunate as it can be deadly. Remaining quiet about it increases your chances for doing something rash. I know how hard it must be to open up about it. Tell God. Share it with God until you have the courage to speak of it with others. I envision you getting help even if it is done secretly. There is help out there. I have given you a source. Please use it. Continue to read this website. I am trying so hard to help you. Don't forget what I said about those who will criticize you if they knew of your illness: they are the truly insane ones. Observe those who claim to be organized and have it all together. If only you knew what they, yes, even they endure. Be aware that depression befalls the most creative of God's children. Research those who have suffered with the malady and gone on to be productive. Some were geniuses. You are in good company, my friends. Now, let us see what Ezekial saw in his vision. You will recall that he was transformed in this manner in prior submissions. When I researched this segment, I thought, 'O, my!' Dr. McGee expressed similar sentiments as he only provided the framework for these chapters. And so will I. I am not discouraging you from reading but I am saying that it is something you can study privately. There is no trivia in the bible. It all has meaning. Let's get started. The introduction by F.LaGard Smith begins: It has been some 12 years since any recorded word of the Lord has come to Ezekial. In what seems to be a mere continuation of his previous futuristic vision, Ezekial now sees the great temple. He continues ... the rebuilt temple will not have the physical beauty of the one which it replaces,and that the dimensions of the great temple described here are on a much grander scale than could possibly be built in the soon-to-be reconstructed city of Jerusalem. Further, there are also significant differences to be seen in the religious service of the great temple. In essence, this temple is to be a millennial one. Millennium refers to the 1000-year period of Christ's prophesied reign in person on earth. That's it. That's it in a nutshell. Dr. McGee thinks that the passover and sacrifices will return to this temple. Read it for yourselves and see what you think. Today's affirmation: I have had a set-back but soon I will experience a come-back. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

EDITOR'S AFTERTHOUGHTS

 

Dawn has not broken and I am wide awake with thoughts of you, my friends. No, I am not experiencing manic depression. Those days have long past. Most of the time, I rest well. But, people with depression or who have experienced it often are deep thinkers. And thinking is not governed by the clock. I just wanted you to know that I do have evidence that this ministry has national and international impact. I have a pen pal from the continent of Africa. I will not reveal how she contacted me. And I have been informed by friends in other states about their recommendations of the site. I don't know what God has planned for me and how far He wants to take this endeavor. I see people all of the time who evidence symptoms of depression. It takes one to know one. But, I never indicate my inclination. I do know who you are when I meet you, but many of you don't know me. I also have been informed that some Hebrew children are logging on. That truly makes me happy. I will pray for  you and I want you to pray for me. This is a monumental task, especially when you are not rewarded. I will receive my recognition from God. Sometimes I attend affairs at other churches and observe the crowd of ministers seated in places of honor, while I remain ensconced with the crowd. Recogniton makes me uncomfortable. It is too bad that many of them don't think that way. Remember the Pharisees? As I return to bed, or at least to my cup of coffee, I leave you with a thought shared by Robert, an elder at my non-denominational church: God has given me an engagement ring. Think about that. MAKE IT A GREAT DAY.

 

 

 


Submitted Wednesday, September 8, 2010

 

OK! I will 'fess up. I haven't posted a prayer recently because I have been feeling anxious. It lasted a day. In a previous submission I said I would probably not return to the old days. Then, I started thinking. What makes me think that I am so righteous that I won't experience some symptoms? David did, and he was a man after God's own heart. So did Job and he was blameless. The list is endless. Granted, the incidents will not be as intense and endure as long. But, I will have anxious days. But, isn't that true for "normal" folk as well. I am not operating under some illusion that my anxiety will not be felt more deeply. It probably will. And so will yours, my friends. The point of the matter is that expecting nirvana is unrealistic. You may always have tinges of depression. However, you will learn to live with it. Ask a recovering alcoholic. They will tell you that they must not take that first drink. I describe myself as "recovering" from depression. The seed remains, but under control. It doesn't have to bloom. This introduction will not serve as a segue into today's lessons.  It's not meant to be. It was something I wanted to reveal. Today's submission covers chapters forty-four through forty-eight of Ezekial and will carry us to the end of his ministry. We will also discover that Jeremiah's ministry ends around the same time. From here we will stop over in Daniel and study the king of Babylon's bout with insanity. Then, we will examine Job. My mentor, Dr. McGee only touched upon these chapters. I am pretty much on my own, and that is not a comfortable position when studying prophecy. Earlier we have mentioned that the temple vision experienced by Ezekial is one that will actuate during the thousand year reign of Christ. These chapters give detailed information about it. It is controversial, and like most prophetic messages, can be interpreted with different viewpoints. Some understand it to mean this will take place when the temple is re-built after the exile of the Israelites in Babylon. Others think it is currently coming to pass. To further complicate matters, the "prince" mentioned in this scripture is said to be David. Now, I am sure that will blow some folk out of the water. Dr. McGee staunchly believes that David will have a role in the events of the last days, but is careful not to place him in a higher position than the Messiah. The first three verses of Chapter forty-four speak of this prince. It reads, The Lord said to me, "This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel has entered through it. The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the Lord. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way." Then Ezekial continues toward the north gate and it is here that Lord speaks of the uncircumcised. They are forbidden to enter the sanctuary, including foreigners who live among the Israelites. Verses 10-14 discuss the priests. If you will recall, they disappointed God by worshipping idols and must pay the penalty. Verses 17-19: "But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me and perform my service..." Further down, the garments are explained. In a word, they are to wear linen so that they would not perspire. It tells them how to wear their hair and how to conduct themselves in the presence of a corpse. They also are to serve as judges. I realize that we have covered much of this material earlier, but it is presented here in a different manner. So, it is worth considering. In the next chapter, forty-five, the distribution of the land among the tribes is the subject matter. Let us turn our attention to Ezk. 45:21-25 where the Passover is discussed. You can see here that it has returned. Please examine that section as it will have great impact in the New Testament where the sacrificial lamb is impaled. More detail is offered in subsequent chapters as we hurry toward the end of Ezekial. Ezk. 48:35 says, "And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE. I have noticed that it is no longer referenced as in the past. I have done my best to present this material to you as clearly and simply as my understanding allows. Much of it is new to me and I am sure many of you are scratching your cranium. Today's affirmation: Fill in the blank: Somewhere over the rainbow ________. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? A men. Amen.


Submitted Friday, September 10, 2010

 

Ezekial's ministry may be concluding, but there is no evidence that his life ended. He was 55 at the time and it is about 570 B.C. Now, you will notice that I don't often include dates with my entries. There is a reason for that, and I am sure there are the pseudo-scholars who are critical of me for it. You won't remember them anyway. If you were to ask your spiritual leader: 'when did Joel prophesy?' they would probably not know. I would suggest you choose a few important events and memorize them and go from there. For instance, you might want to know when Abraham lived or the approximate date of King David's reign; you may even wish to know when Daniel lived or the Hebrew children went into captivity. Some events are important in terms of understanding prophecy. Those are exceptions. But, the truth of the matter is that people get bogged down with facts that take away the fun of learning the bible. I am not saying it is a funsy endeavor, but I am saying it should be something that people want to do. This will be a mini lesson. After Ezekial's great temple vision, it is another two years before the word of the Lord comes to him again. You see, my friends, sometimes we want to rush our recovery. But, it doesn't always happen that way. It took me twenty years. I hope you won't have to wait that long, but you may have to wait. Sometimes God has you on hold so that He can get your attention and keep you from events that may cause serious problems for you. When the Lord came to Ezekial it was regarding the city of Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar was to destroy it, but couldn't. It was built on an island. You, my friends, will find that your life is as an island. You are not alone. No man is an island. No man stands alone. Tyre was not completely subdued until two hundred years later when Alexander the Great built a causeway and destroyed it. The next submissions will also be brief. It is brevity that keeps some of you returning to this site, I surmise. Sometimes our spiritual leaders are too long winded. Is that not true? Quality yields to quantity. We are headed to Job, but must first return to Daniel and relate the temporary insanity of Nebuchadnezzar. Today's affirmation: Faith gives us flexibility and prevents us from panicking. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Wednesday, September 15, 2010

 

What is normal? Is it the opposite of abnormal? Then, what is abnormal? There is a thin line between the two. We often are so swift to label people as abnormal, or crazy if you will. As I have often expounded, the crazed aren't as insane as you think. The secrets of the normal outweigh those of the abnormal. In today's submission, we will examine a king who experienced temporary insanity. Not just any leader, but the king of the first great world power. He is Nebuchadnezzar. And we find him during what appears to be the last two or three years of his reign. God taught him a lesson. He will use many avenues to accomplish this goal. In my case, he put me in slow motion for twenty years. I had plenty of time to ruminate over my sins. During this time, I was being protected. Dating ceased. Many repercussions could have befallen me had I not been forced to do that. I shudder to think of some of them. My life evolved around the church. It wasn't the right denomination for me, but I found it to be a port in the storm that got me through those difficult years. And difficult they were. For this account of  Nebuchadnezzar's temporary insanity, we will return to the book of Daniel. While Ezekial and the other prophets warned and bemoaned the Israelites, Daniel was in the palace of the king. So, it should not surprise you that we will return to that account. Dan. 4:1-3 begin with the testimony of the king: King Nebuchadnezzar, To the peoples, nations and  men of every language, who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly! It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. The king tells of the peace he found after surrendering to God's authority. And so did I, my friends. And so will you. Verses 4-18 tell of the dream the king experienced. After the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners could not explain the vision, the king called on Daniel. You will will recall some of the things that he has already witnessed. This is what the king said to Belteshazzar (Daniel): I said, 'Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. These are the visions I saw while lying in my bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: "Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him..." Later in verses 19-27 Daniel inteprets the dream. He did so reluctantly. Belteshazzar answered, " My Lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air_you, O king, are that tree!.." Then Daniel goes on to reveal his fate. He will be cut down. He will be driven away from his people and will live with wild animals for seven times. I am not sure what seven times references. It is prophetic time. It could possibly mean number of years. Dan. 28-30 tell us that this happened to the king twelve months later. But, his sanity was restored after he looked towards the heaven and praised the most high. Is that your problem, my friend? Are you out there on a branch by yourself, giving yourself credit for your empire? Has pride caused you to fall? Today's affirmation is from Rev. Harris, a fiery young minister from my neck of the woods; I am paraphrasing: Sometimes you may feel as if you are on the corner between Lord, have mercy and thank you Jesus, but God will see the best in you. You may need someone to hold on to your basket as did Paul, but God has a ram in the bush. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Friday, September 17, 2010

 

"...For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord. (Jer. 29:11-14) This quotation was uttered to the prophet Jeremiah during the time in which the Israelites were captives in Babylon. This constitutes an excerpt from a letter the weeping prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem. In this brief entry, we will find that Jeremiah's ministry is ending. In Jer. 52:31-34, we discover that the forty-five year reign of Nebuchandnezzar has ended and his son Evil-Merodah has  succeeded him. In his first year of rulership, he does something that must have surprised the captives. Verses 31-34 read, In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merocach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table. Day by day the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death. Now, my friends this can be applied to your lives. You may be imprisoned in the garb of the depressed. But, you can be released. Whether Jeremiah is still alive at this time is not known, according to F. LaGard Smith, editor of my bible of choice. His last prophecy was uttered around 586 B.C, after he had been taken to Egypt by a renegade bond of his own people. Although there will be other prophets and prophecies to come, the era of the great written prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekial now come to a close. The next submission will launch us into the book of Job and the problem of suffering. Today's affirmation: I will listen to God's whisper so that he doesn't have to throw a brick at me. It is my choice. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Monday, September 20, 2010

 

Why does a caring God allow suffering? That is a question that many non-believers have asked. Recently, a friend sent me an electronic message telling me about her grandson, a recent arrival born to her daughter and son-in-law in another state. He is having a difficult time and doctors don't quite know why. She is distraught and her faith is faltering. She has been on a roller coaster ride of emotions. She flew to their hometown to witness the miraculous birth and returned home thinking all is well. Now this. She feels so helpless. The only thing she thinks would help would be to get a sitter for the dog while the parents spend countless hours by the baby's side. She feels guilty that her faith isn't working for her when she most needs it. Why? What sin did the little boy commit? This is a great transition into our next study of the book of Job. This will serve as its introduction. The book of Job is filled with controversial matters. First, the very fact that it is being presented at this time constitutes one of them. Admittedly, I thought the editor erred when he placed it at the end of Jeremiah's ministry, as well as the era of the great written prophecies of Isaiah, and Ezekial.  Like Dr. McGee, I thought it belonged earlier in the bible as it tells an account of a patriarch and is said to have been written by Moses. But, then I read the introduction of F. LaGard Smith and he clarifies the issue. It is a historical poem. It is told as a flashback. The editor writes, At this time when people are in search of a personal God, the writer takes them back before their own prophets, before the teaching of the law, before the promises made to Abraham, to a man who is not one of the children of Israel. He is just a lone human being who finds himself in terrible suffering for no apparent reason. I am elated that I delayed the posting of this submission because I understand why it was placed here. Many scholars will vehemently disagree. The editor does not imply that the events did not take place at an earlier time, he has included the book here as a historical reflection upon an incident that parallels the emotions experienced by the Israelites now in captivity and dispersed. Dr. McGee says the book is presented as drama, dialogue, God's response and the epilogue. Now, many of you are familiar with the expression 'the patience of Job,' but Dr. McGee thinks that Job, albeit of a righteous nature, needed to repent over his self-righteousness. Instead of a lesson of patience, it is a lesson of repentance. And, I might add, one of faith. The first scene of the poem opens with a picture of Job's prosperity; the second Job questions God and in the third a friend explains why Job is suffering. As you will determine, with the friends of Job, who needs enemies? I am anticipating this study as it is probably as close as any chapter will come to paralleling your emotions, my friends. Today's affirmation: I will stick my neck out and seek help. I cannot heal unless I take a chance and get assistance from the mental health community. God has placed these individuals here to help me. With their help and faith in the Great Physician, I will get better. People can look at me and tell there is a problem, so why am I thinking that it is such a secret. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Wednesday, September 22, 2010

 

I walked into the class of my grandtwins and saw one of them with a "blankey." In big folk talk that interprets into a security blanket. I had never seen her with one before. I discovered that she was playing mama. We all have a security blanket. Sometimes it is as simple as an afghan in which to wrap ourselves while gazing at television. Or it could be that car in the garage. For me, it's my bible. Today we are going to begin the book of Job. Job didn't have a bible. The time in which he lived was even before the law was instituted. He was a patriarch and a rich one at that. He lived in the land of Uz. Many of you live in the land of Uz as did Job when the chapter begins. You reside on the rich side of town and all is well with the world. For a long time Job experienced prosperity. At Job 1:1-3, it reveal: In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. Scripture tells us that his children loved to party. It appears that they were "spoiled brats" if you will. They went from one home to another feasting. In his role as high priest of the family, Job would purify them after these events as he was concerned for their spirituality. Job 1:6-12 bring Satan onto the scene. Surprisingly, Satan presented himself before the Lord along with the  angels of light, and God inquired of him: "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." This proves that there is such a one as Satan, the angel of darkness and that God permits him to roam the earth. Continuing, Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied, "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." I can relate to this, my friends. For years, things went my way. While there were a few thorns in the thistles, I mostly experienced a happy childhood. I was blessed. This went on for a long time. Then, in my late thirties I, too, was afflicted with depression. Later, in the same chapter, The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Verses 13-19 of the first chapter tell how Job loses all: his servants; his livestock and his children. Please read it for its full flavor later. After these tragedies verses 20-22 tell us, At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. How about you, my friends? Have you lost your faith after the onset of depression? Do you blame God? Certainly, you have not been as oppressed as Job. Chapter two begins: On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan gives the same answer. He now tells the Lord that he plans to touch Job skin for skin. He afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" Of course, Job told her she spoke foolishly. The chapter really begins at verse eleven with the introduction of Job's three friends. We will hear more from each of them later. They included Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite. I recommend that you read the third chapter carefully. In his discourse, Job curses his birth. He hated the day of his birth and wanted to die. Life was a burden. Can you understand how Job felt, my friends? He would rather have been still born or if not he preferred death. In this submission, we see that it was Satan who caused Job's problems. Some would say, 'the devil made me do it' is an excuse. We create our own problems from the choices we make. Perhaps it is a combination of the two. At least, it is worth deep thought. Today's affirmation: I must ponder, 'why am I depressed?' This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Sunday, September 26, 2010

 

It is often said that a friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway. In chapters four through seven we will find that Job has a friend who doesn't really know him; doesn't really know himself nor does he really know God. We will reveal the dialogues that exchanged between Job and Eliphaz. His name, according to Dr. McGee, means God is strength. And, in his intellectual sparring with Job, he speaks some truths. He wasn't all right and he wasn't completely wrong. As I read this chapter, I engage in a little self-analysis since I represent myself as your friends. Well, one thing is certain, I really understand what you are experiencing as I have felt the same pain. I try not to establish myself as a know-it-all and will be first to admit that I am not of the mental health community. However, that does not disqualify my ability to help, as some in that field may require  therapy themselves if truth be known. When you are hurting you may turn to a friend for consolation. But, like Job, we must be cautious as from whom we seek help. Sometimes they can make matters worse. And that is what happened in the case of Job's friends. Chapter Four, verses one through six begin with a coy statement: "If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking? Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?.." Many of you, my friends, are employed in jobs requiring you to nurture others. Sometimes we spend so much time engaged in such behavior that we find ourselves needing help. So, in brief, Eliphaz was saying, you helped others, now why can't you help yourself? He found a chink in Job's armour. Verses 7-11: "...As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who Sow trouble reap it..." This may prove to be a sensitive spot for some of you as you may think that you are being punished by God. And, I must admit that it may be that God is trying to get your attention. But, understanding your particular situation goes deeper. I  can honestly say that the bottom line may be that your spirituality is suffering. Eliphaz tells Job about a vision he had. The description  may be found at Job 4:12-16. Eliphaz was not helpful to Job. He did make some profound statements, but unless you have walked down the road upon which that person travels, you may not have all the pieces to the puzzle. Verses 17-21 speak of man's vulnerability. He says: 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?...' In essence, he was saying that Job is just a man living in a house of clay. Later, in the first few verses of chapter five we find Eliphaz challenging his friend to "Call if you will, but who will answer you?..." A  familiar statement is found in verse seven: "Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward..." Now, that is profound. And very true for all of us. So, now Elizphaz gives Job advice in verses 8-16: "But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success..." Now, it is Job's turn to respond. In chapter six, verses one through seven he said: "If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas_no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me.." You may feel this way. But, remember that God is a loving God. He wants you to get better. Job expresses a wish to die. Please read Job 6:8-13. In verses 14-23 of the sixth chapter Job discovers that he cannot depend upon friends. He says: "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow.." Further down, he tells Eliphaz that he has not helped him at all. In verses 24-27, he challenges his so-called friend: "Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words!.." Job doesn't want to be analyzed. How about you, my friends? I think you may have the same feelings. Job thinks that his death is imminent. Job 7:6-10: "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again..." I have read journal entries that I wrote during my Job-like years and I thought as he. In Job 7:17-21, he asks Eliphaz to just leave him alone. Today's affirmation: (From Pastor Mike at my church) Does your suffering make you bitter or better? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Submitted Wednesday, September 29, 2010

 

The chapter of Job is a familiar one to most Christians. However, most don't comprehend its subtle meanings. Oh, they understand about the sufferings he endured and how his wealth and more children were given him. They understand about how his friends failed to help him. But, they fall short in comprehending the true reason behind Job's disdain. Dr. McGee helped identify his need, validated through personal study. Job needed someone to arbitrate. In the New Testament there came such one in the personage of Jesus Christ. Job felt helpless and hopeless because he knew that he was unable to relate to such a perfect creator. Ensconced among these revelations is one of the concepts of the beginning of life. There are some elements that support the theory of creation. Let us examine these factors from information found in Job eight, nine and ten. Bildad the Shuhite is the man of the hour. He is another one of Job's  friends. Beginning with Job 8:1-7: Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: "How long will you say such things? Your words are blustering wind..." In other words, Bildad is saying that Job is getting what he deserves. He ends with: Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. And that is exactly what happened to the protagonist, Job. And that is what can happen to you, my friends. In verses 11-19 Bildad condemns Job. He says, Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. He implies that Job is a hypocrite. Later, in verses 20-22 he wants to know 'where is the perfect man?' He says, "Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Your enemies will be clothed in shame, and the tents of the wicked will be no more. It seems to me that he is uttering words of comfort in these verses. Then, Job speaks in the first thirteen verses of chapter nine: "Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can a mortal be righteous before God?..." "When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him..." Job realizes that God is a spirit. In Job 9:14-20,  the protagonist thinks 'how can I plead my case?' He responds thusly: "How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him?...." Job has a high estimation of himself.  In the next verses, 21-24 he comments: " Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life..." Have you such thoughts, my friends? In verses 25-31 he thinks that his suffering remains. And in verses 32-35: "He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot. Do you see, my friends, why we need a mediator? And that mediator is none other than Jesus Christ. Chapter ten tells that Job loathes his life. This is worthy of reading later. Job defends himself: though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand? The philosophical questions are presented in verses 8-12 of chapter ten_how was man created and should a creator destroy? Continuing, "Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again...?" Yes, there is more to Job than meets the eye. You must ruminate on it. Today's affirmation: And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. (Romans 5:3)


EDITOR'S LAMENTATIONS

 

It is said that 'only the strong survive.' And, sometimes that may appear to be true. Of late, the news has been inundated with stories telling of the young, and the not so young, taking their lives. It brings shadows of tears to my eyes, as I know the pain that must have preceded the tragedies. Sometimes they look differently from everybody else. They often act differently. But, others are of the heroic type, yet suffering inside. Many conceal their hurt. They use various methods to do so. Sometimes it is hidden through promiscuity. Sometimes drugs ease their pain. There are many topics discussed on television but depression is something that is often swept under the rug. No one wants to be considered mentally ill. I feel as though I am an army of one on occasion. I have come out of the closet. If my friends would spend as much time getting help as they do concealing their problems, we wouldn't have as many suicides. Depression pops its ugly head in all races and age groups. It is clear that I want no credit for my efforts. But, if someone out there has the capacity to support me it would be helpful. The only hitch is that I am anonymous to most. And want to keep it that way. I do not want notoriety to interfere with God getting the glory. In the meantime, I will continue to post supportive prayers along with bible lessons. I am not naive enough to think this is all you need. But, I stand on the promise that when you let God into your lives, He can help you through your darkest hours. I have always encouraged you to seek help from the mental health community. It takes courage. I will be praying for you, my faceless friends. Join me in whatever way you can.


Submitted Monday, October 4, 2010

 

Job's trial continues. And indeed it is that. His friends continue to testify against him. I am no legal eagle so I will limit my analogy in this arena. But, Dr. McGee describes Zophar, whose name means sparrow, as a legalist. He goes further and says he may be considered an atheist. Everything is according to law and formula. We will consider chapters eleven through fourteen while illuminating Zophar's position. He may be characterized as the most crude of the three. He basically calls Job a liar. Job 11:1-6 say, 'Are all these words to go unanswered?' Is this talker to be vindicated? Will your idle talk reduce men to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock? You say to God, 'My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.' Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you, and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some  of your sin. Realize that Job is a sick man. He is covered with sores and probably in a lot of pain. Job is disgusted with life and he has to contend with philosophical friends. Do you find yourselves in this position, my friend? Everybody knows what you need. They see clearly, through their eyes. Continuing in verses 7-9: "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?" Zophar certainly knows how to dig the knife deeply into the wounds of Job, doesn't he? Zophar doesn't realize that God is revealed not discovered. He continues in verses 10-12: "If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him? Surely he recognizes deceitful men; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? But a witless man can no more become wise than a wild donkey's colt can be born a man." As you travel down the trail of depression, you also will be insulted. And the most painful sort is that which is implied. Zophar is suggesting that Job is concealing something. He is making a lot of assumptions about Job, just as people will about you. In verses 13-20: "Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp." Though his motives may not be pure, there is comfort in much of what Zophar utters. My friends, be not discouraged over your situation, thinking it is caused by your sinful nature alone. Be ever aware that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. I am not qualified to explain it in detail as I am not of the mental health community. Now, Job takes the stand in his defense. Beginning in the first three verses of chapter twelve he says, "Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things? YOU GO, JOB! He says, you don't have all the answers. And neither have I. But, at least I have walked a mile in your moccasins. In verses 4-6: Job continues, "I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called upon God and he answered_a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!.." Job is not the only one who is taunted and used as fodder for laughter. I was. And so are many of you. However, Job doesn't appear to understand God's grace and mercy. He is trying to vindicate himself, rather than God. Job 12:7-12 discuss how God permits suffering. Please read it later. Job tells Zophar in Job 13:1-5 to be quiet. He says, '...If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom...' Now, that is telling it like it is. Continuing in 13:13-19 He says, "Keep silent and let me speak; then let come to me what may...Continuing, '...Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die.' Job's opening statement is recorded in verses 20-23 but he seems to be telling God what to do. Read it and see what you think. Then an elegy on death is recorded in the next few verses. Beginning in Job 13:28-14:6: "So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths. Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble..." Please read 14:7-12 to see how Job views life after death. It may reflect your thoughts. The only hope is resurrection.  Today's affirmation comes from Pastor Mike at my church: God keeps us in the furnace until He can see His reflection in our lives. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Tuesday, October 12, 2010

 

My girlfriend, Bea, won't allow me to say, 'I've had a bad day.' She contends that every day above ground is a good day. And she is right. Well, if I don't assess last weekend as 'bad' I will say that it gave me many opportunities for prayer. It began  Saturday night. I was restless. Sleep escaped me. Oftentimes when I have a sinus attack, this happens. So, it was of no surprise. Then, things got worse. I had to awaken the next morning and be at church and ready to greet congregants at the door. I had done it many times. But my pleasure in performing the task was waning. I was out of my element  from the start; I am a behind the scene person.  My nature wouldn't allow it. I got through the greeting and was relieved to be able to be seated and listen to the sermon. Things went downhill from there. My parents, my husband and I went out to dinner. Something we do each Sunday afternoon. But, for some strange reason I decided to try a new restaurant. It turned into a disaster. The service was lousy and the food even worse. When the manager, on his tour of the establishment, questioned us regarding our satisfaction with the food, I immediately quipped, 'I didn't like it and I am returning to the buffet restaurant I have frequented in the past.' How cruel. Realize now that I couldn't sleep Saturday night and wrestled with an approaching sinus headache. Even after church services I didn't get the relief that a quick nap would have provided. Then I discovered that my washer wasn't functioning. No problem, I had another in the wings stored in my garage that I had retrieved from the home of my parents after their relocation. It didn't work either. So, there I stood. Sleepless, hungry and agitated. Finally, I tried to rest Sunday night. Again, I had trouble falling asleep. The  sinus attack lingered. I thought about my concerns and how to solve each one. First, I decided not to continue as a greeter at church. Relief number one. Then, I determined that I would cancel an early morning appointment scheduled the next day. This rumination escalated and I made a decision to let God's will be done. I thought, 'Lord, if you do not intervene and help me get some rest, I will accept that. I will let your will be done in my life.' I don't recall anything after that as I fell asleep. I decided to spend the next day in bed recovering from my drama. The phone rang. I ignored both calls. Things didn't turn out as planned because I showered and got on with my day. I accomplished many things. One of the things I was unable to do was post this prayer. I am glad I delayed it as I was able to use my personal story to introduce the next comforterer. Unlike my friend, this consoler failed to help Job. Job's friends, in their second round of rebuttals, lacked compassion for him. They expounded many truths but they did not apply to Job. They were pious platitudes. Bildad, according to Dr. McGee was a traditionalist and Zophar a legalist. Both lacked knowledge of the true God and His grace. Chapter eighteen begins with Bildad speaking about the  insight possessed by nonsufferers. Verses 1-4: Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: "When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk. Why are we regarded as cattle and considered stupid in your sight?..." Now, as much as I love Job, we cannot escape the fact that Job erred.  Why did he have to defend himself? Why not leave that to God? Job was trying to vindicate himself and not God. But, his friends' premises were not accurate. They were  insensitive as well. In verses 5-21 Bildad said, He has no offspring or descendants among his people, no survivor where once he lived. Men of the west are appalled at his fate; men of the east are seized with horror. Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; such is the place of one who knows not God. How untrue. Job knew God. But, he also understood that even the righteous suffer. Chapter nineteen begins with our protagonist saying, "How long will you torment me and crush me with words? Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me. If it is true that I have gone astray, my error remains my concern alone. If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me and use my humiliation against me, then know that God has wronged me and drawn his net around me. In verses 13-20 Job says, I am nothing but skin and bones, I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth. But my favorite response made by him is found in Job 1-:23-27: "Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God..." Job has confidence in resurrection. Later, the sufferer tells his friends that God will punish them. Then, in chapter twenty Zophar, the legalist, speaks briefly. He utters some truths about the brevity of life and how the wicked always fall.  The wicked will be punished but Job is not wicked.  He does understand that they often prosper. Please  read that at Job 21:2-18.Today's affirmation: I will repeat this mantra: Let God's will be done in my life. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

EDITOR'S CONFESSIONS

 

Like it or not, most families have mental illness within their geneaology. And, most hide this fact of life. Not me. I will quickly admit that my grandmother had, what is commonly termed, a nervous breakdown. And my mother has a history of depression. So, I suppose the imprint into my DNA was made a long time ago. And that is true of many. How about those who, like me, didn't understand the illness and had no knowledge that they were indeed depressed. My childhood, with a few exceptions, was happy. Albeit the daughter of an unwed teen, life treated me well. My mother married a man of means and I spent most of my  existence in a supportive enviornment. I never had to worry about the necessities of life. This continued throughout college. Without being too redundant, God pulled the rug out from under me when I reached my late thirties. I forsook my childhood desire to please Him.  Depression eased up on me. It didn't just grab me suddenly. But, this commentary goes a little deeper. As a young instructor of English, I worked in a hostile enviornment, yet thrived.  During this time of loneliness, I started feeling that  my co-workers were against me. And many of them were. That was the beginning of my paranoia. As time passed and depression gripped me I experienced episodes with a feeling that someone was trying to harm me. I had extreme bouts with it. Though such feelings have diminished over time,  sometimes I can feel satanic presence when I enter a room. Am I crazy? That is what the evil one wants you to think, so that he can take you by surprise. Conclusively, I bare my soul to you so that you won't attribute all of your encounters to mental illness. The bible teaches that satan is often out to get you. He uses your illness to his advantage. This does not minimize the fact that you may or may not be depressed. But, it may often be satan's attempt to control you. Concomitantly, you should not use this reality to prevent your seeking help from the mental health community. MAY YOU HAVE JUST ENOUGH CLOUDS IN YOUR LIFE TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET.


Submitted Tuesday, October 19, 2010

 

'Why me, Lord?' I asked myself that question during my dark days of depression. And, you may have also. Job certainly did. So it is with a friend of mine the Lord put in my pathway. Sometimes I get out my address book and thumb through it, looking for names of family and friends with whom I haven't talked in awhile. I was engaged in such behavior when I found this person's number. I wondered if she had changed it, but the spirit told me to call. After a brief discussion I discovered she was suffering with depression. We talked for a bit, but it is not my habit to engage in long conversations. I pray longer than I speak. I encouraged her as best I could and informed her of this website. A short time after our dialogue I received an electronic message from her. She wrote: Sometimes, we wonder if God has left us alone. People walk away; family walk away and your ability to see life as it should be gets cloudy. I have depression and a lady recently asked me when I was going to get out of the pit? I thank the Father who loves me while I am in the pit. He loves me enough to show me how to climb  to new heights. I feel he laid me on your heart, for I do so need people with an understanding that God is not in a box, limited to what they think He is or isn't. We can live in fear or we can live in love. Many things have happened over this year; I thank you for your concern. This website is powerful! I will read daily and pray often. (paraphrased). In today's submission we find Eliphaz continuing to condemn Job just as my anonymous friend experienced. Albeit we will study three chapters, they are brief. Job 22:4-12: (Eliphaz speaks when he tells Job that he is less righteous than believed) " Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you? Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry.." This false friend is engaged in gossip about Job. Have you had this exprience, my friend? The Temanite is saying that Job has secret sins and that God knows about them. Sometimes there is truth in this premise. I had secret sins. Have you, my friends? In most cases, your secrets are not as concealed as you think. Someone knows about them. Certainly God does. Continuing in Job 22:12-20: "Is not God in the heights of heaven?And see how lofty are the highest stars! Yet you say, 'What does God know? Does he judge through such darkness?..." Eliphaz speaks half truths. There is wisdom in his ideas, yet he  references the wrong man. Has he ever considered that he may be self-righteous? Then, in Job 22:21-20 Job's friend advises him to repent. "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you...You will pray to him, and he will  hear you, and you will fulfill your vows..." Now Job responds. At Job 23:1-7 Job replied: "Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning. If only I knew where to find him; if only  I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say. Would he oppose me with great power? No, he would not press charges against me. There an upright man could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge." It seems to me that Job is a little self-righteous himself. Job desires for a word from God. At this time, there was no mediator to plead his case. This was before Jesus was born. Job 24:1-12: "Why does the almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?..." In verses 13-17, Job speaks of deeds done in darkness. "There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay  in its path. When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up and kills the poor and needy...For all of them, deep darkness is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness. Later, in verses 18-25: "...He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like heads of grain..." Today's affirmation: I must realize that my mood swings may result from seasonal changes. When the days are shortened and the weather becomes cool, my sunny disposition may change to match the weather. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

Submitted Monday, October 25, 2010

 

While a sprout of an instructor of English, I was known for my hard nosed approach to teaching. No nonsense. I was there to teach and they were there to learn. I didn't mind being unpopular. I was concerned whether I imparted the knowledge to them I knew they needed in order to be successful. And, surprisingly, many students felt comfortable with that. At the end of each year, I would have the pupils evaluate me. They could write whatever they chose. I had one of their own collect and read the assessments. Most of them were favorable, believe it or not. They didn't hold back and I fervently listened. I was the one learning from them. Other teachers cultivated more of a friendly enviornment. My classroom was not void of friendship. I loved the children and they respected me. In retrospect, my little method required guts. And, in a way it was a lesson in humility. Or was it? I knew I had done a good job and hearing it reverberate from the lips of the youngsters was vain, in a sense. This segue into the next chapters of Job expresses what Job experienced. He was an honorable man. And he loved God and God loved him. But Job lacked humility. I know this isn't what you hear most often regarding him, but it is the core of the matter. In spite of the hammering done to his character by his "friends," Job didn't break. Perhaps he would have been better off had he done so. There is strength in a broken spirit, my friends. I am not advocating a disintegrated mental state, but I think it is necessary to have a contrite heart before you can mend your emotional condition. Dr. McGee used the word contrite and it aptly describes what was missing in Job's life. Job 25:1-6 expresses the final word from his well intentioned friends. Bildad speaks. But only for a short while. He goes back to creation. Please read it. Job's lengthy discourse begins at the twenty-sixth chapter. He reveals much about himself, as do I. In order to heal it has been my experience that talking about your problems helps tremendously, as does shaking off the shame related with them. We find that our protagonist reveals scientific facts that hold true today. He says "...He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing..." In his continued effort to vindicate himself, Job confesses in Job 27:1-6:"...I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it, my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live..." We cannot deny that the man had faith. Read what he says about the fate of the wicked at Job 27:13-23. Dr. McGee considers Job 28:1-19 as a beautiful poem of creation. Here are some excerpts: "But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver..." And I favor the next few verses when the answer regarding the source of wisdom and understanding are provided. Verses 20-28: "...And he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord_that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding.'" Job 29 speaks of his former prosperity. In verses 7-25 the personal pronoun "I" is used 52 times, according to Dr. McGee and 100 times in the thirty-first chapter. Job seems to have "I" problems. Do  you know of someone with this malady? Job 29:7-25 tells of his former esteem. It begins, "When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet..." It continues to describe how he lived before his affliction. Then he fast forwards to the present in chapter thirty: "But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs...And now their sons mock me in song; I have become a byword among them. They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in  my face. Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence..." Verses 16-19 tell how Job was robbed of his health. Job, like all of us, had a blind spot. What is yours, my friends? Today's affirmation: I must be aware that pride goeth before a fall. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

Submitted Tuesday, November 2, 2010

 

One thing I have learned about this ministry is that you don't attempt to post a prayer until the spirit leads you to do so. I pondered about how I would introduce the words of Elihu spoken before the Lord responds. I realize that I have been experiencing some of the same events endured by Job. Of course, mine have lacked his intensity, but they parallel. I have a friend who is in denial about her difficulties. I wonder about the sincerity of her spirituality. She works two jobs and cares for her children. Albeit she tries to be a good mother, she is overwhelmed by the responsibilities. Instead of comforting her I have been quick to reveal her weaknesses_like the friends of Job. I haven't helped ease her burdens. Her lifestyle is different from mine. But, that is no reason not to uplift her spirits. And, like Job, I have been self-righteous about the matter. Of course, there are other ways in which my personal life is reflected in Job's account. God allowed me to suffer from depression for twenty years as you so well know. And God tried Job. The next chapters, thirty-two through thirty-seven record the words of Elihu. Though not Job's friend, he was a young man in the audience absorbing the words of the three who can be described as faux friends. The name Elihu, according to Dr. McGee, means God himself. He was young and, as often is the case, filled with anger over the way Job has been treated as well as Job's pride. Let us look in on him. Job 32:1-5: So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eye. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with the three friends, because they found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused. In my situation, I have no more to say to my friend. Not only because she has requested it, but I think prayer is the best response. In verses 6-9 Elihu says "I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. I thought, 'Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.' But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty that gives him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. Elihu, contends Dr. McGee, is preparing the way for God to speak. Continuing in verses 10-14: "Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know. I waited while you spoke. I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, I gave you full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments. Do not say, 'We have found wisdom; let God refute him, not man.' But Job has not marshaled his words against me, and I will not answer him with your arguments..." Excerpts from verses 15-22: "...I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me..." Dr. McGee brings out the point that grace and truth are the important concepts to be considered here. Elihu illuminates the fact that Job has declared himself pure and without sin and has justified himself rather than God. Later in chapters 14-22 he charges Job with the sin of pride. Dr. McGee describes all believers as "low down sinners." Chapter thirty-three finds Elihu pleading for their attention. The next chapter, begins: "Job says, I am innocent, but God denies me justice. Although I am right, I am considered a liar..." Verses 10-20 speak of the just nature of the Almighty. Elihu continues: "So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to be evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. Please read verses 21-30 of chapters 34 where wickedness is referenced. Dr. McGee asserts that we are all preachers. Our lives reveal  our sermons. I couldn't agree more. We must stop catagorizing the duty to preach to certain groups. Surely, there are some who are called, but that does not negate the fact that we are all "preachers" whether or not we accept the responsibility. Additionally, warnings are given against wickedness in Job 36: 16-21. I encourage you to complete the reading of this brief chapter. Today's affirmation: I am not living in a fairy tale. Life doesn't always end happily ever after. I must accept the bitter with the sweet and move forward. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Monday, November 7, 2010

 

I have never experienced a broken bone. Yet, I am a broken person. And, that's not a bad thing. I found the following truisms along the way about those who are  proud and people who are broken. Proud people have to prove that they are right_They have to get the last word. Broken people are willing to yield to be right. Proud people claim rights and have a demanding  spirit. Broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit. Proud people are self-protective of their rights. And their reputation. Broken people are self-denying and self-sacrificing. Proud people desire to be served_They want life to revolve around them and their needs. Broken people are motivated to serve others and to be sure others' needs are met before their own. Proud people desire to be  known as a success. Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others successful. Proud people have a feeling_conscious or unconscious_that "this ministry (or this organization is privileged to have me and my gifts).They focus on what they can do for God. Broken people have a heart attitude that says "I don't deserve any part in this ministry;" they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives. Proud people crave self-advancement. Broken people desire to promote others. Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them. Proud people get wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. Broken people are eager for others to get the credit, and they rejoice when others are lifted up. Proud people are elated by praise and deflated by criticism. Broken people know that any praise of their accomplishments belongs to the Lord and  that criticism can help them grow into spiritual maturity. Proud people feel confident in how much they know. Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn. Proud people are self-conscious. They worry about what others think of them. Broken people are not preoccupied with what others think of them. Proud people are concerned about appearing respectable. They are driven to protect their image and reputation. Broken people are concerned with being real; they could care less about what others think than about what God knows_they are willing to die to their own reputation. Finally,  proud people can't bear to fail or for anyone to think they are less than perfect. This can drive them to extremes_  workaholic tendencies, perfectionism, the tendencies to drive others or to place unrealistic expectations on themselves or others. Broken people can recognize and live within God given limitations. I thought this would be a good segue into the finality of the book of Job, when the Lord speaks_primarily to Job. The Lord begins with reference to His creation. He challenged Job in this regard. Chapter 38:1-3 says, Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Verses 4-15 continue: "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone_While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy..." Excerpts from verses 16-21: "Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?...Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! Continuing in verses 22-30: "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for  times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning disperses, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?..." In later chapters, the Lord continues to grill Job on his knowledge of His creation. Job answered the Lord in Job 40:3,5: "I am unworthy_how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer_twice, but I will say no more." Then the Lord replies in verses 8-13 "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify  yourself? Do you have an arm like God's and can your voice thunder like his?..."  In verses 15-24 they speak of how man fears large animals. And it continues in verse 41. Let us get to the nitty gritty when Job confesses. In Job 42 he says, "I know that  you can do all things; no plan of  yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and  repent in dust and ashes." Please complete the brief remainder of chapter forty-two that tells how God rebuked the friends of Job and how Job's prosperity was restored. The editor of my bible of choice, says in his commentary, In this life man will never know all of God's wisdom, and in some  respects is not even in a position to ask the question "Why?" But some things are made clear from Job's confrontation. First, although it is not always readily noticeable, the wicked will one day come to judgment. Second, the notion that suffering is always the result of sin is totally destroyed. And, finally, man is in no position to  justify his own situation by accusing  God of injustice. Today's affirmation: I can't even pray for myself, Lord, but You know my heart. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

Submitted Monday, November 15, 2010

 

One of the positive things about being different is that people don't know what to expect of you. I am different and people have learned to expect the unexpected. It is not surprising that I chose a bible with a contrary approach to scriptural doctrine. As you may know, it encompasses an historical presentation. I am not alarmed when our next book for consideration is Psalms_again. You may be surprised that it pops up here. Think of it this way: when poets write, they don't do it exclusively for comtemporary times. They are quoted many years after their writings are made known. That is a sign of a great writer. And, so it is with David. Dr. McGee brings out the points that Psalms are prophetic and that David is telling a story. I never considered that. I always think of it as being consoling_to King David and those who read what he penned. I never knew it was so apocalyptic. Of course, I was aware of those  revealing the coming of the Lord. But, I hadn't a clue that it also included times when the people would be exiled. As I have so often mentioned, prophecy is like a candy of my youth_now and later it was called. For obvious reasons. For this submission I am going to lean heavily upon the introduction of our editor. Something I do infrequently. F. LaGard Smith said of this section: Many of the sentiments expressed by Job are the same feelings contained within a number of psalms written about the people of Israel in exile. Like Job, the people have fallen from prosperity into shame. Like Job, they are facing ridicule and even death. Their prayers in the midst of captivity and exile reveal a people reflecting seriously upon their predicament and sins which brought it about. Confession is a central theme and hope for deliverance is their prayer. The following ten psalms expose the agonizing loneliness of not only these captives but anyone who has ever awakened to the harsh realization that he or she is in spiritual exile. Therein lies your segue. Launching with Psa. 44, we find the confession of national sin and prayer for restoration. It is written by Korah. We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago. With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our fathers; you crushed the peoples and made our fathers flourish. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm. This, of course, is a flashback. Continuing, But now you have rejected and humbled us, you no longer go out with our armies. You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us. You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations. Later, Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? We are brought down to the dust; and our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us, redeem us because of your unfailing love. These psalms must be read within the historical context in which they happened. We have spent much time revealing them, and some conclusions you can draw independently, for the sake of time constraints. Ask yourself: What was happening with them at this time? Psa. 74 is a prayer for God to use limitless power to restore the people. Excerpts: They burned your sanctuary to the ground, they defiled the dwelling of your Name. Then, Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever. Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually. Note that the Psalms are not divided into verses in this bible, but a little effort will permit you to locate the material referenced. Psa. 79 asks the question, When will God hear the captives'cry, and repay enemies? It is a psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance, they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth. Does this sound as if it happened when David wrote the Psalms? Just a little reality check.  Psa. 80 is a prayer for restoration of the vine brought out of Egypt. Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Dr. McGee says these tribes were those who marched behind the ark. The psalm continues: O Lord God Almighty, how long will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us a source of contention to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.  Jesus is referenced as the prophetic story looks to the future. Examine the last stanza of Psa. 85: Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps. We close with Psa. 89, a call for God to remember his promise to David. Dr. McGee notes that the word faithfulness is used ten times in this Psalm and covenant is employed four times. Sections from the Psalm: Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: "I have bestowed strength on a warrior, I have exalted a young man from the people. I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. No enemy will subject him to tribute; no wicked man will oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted. Would you agree that the horn is Jesus Christ? Please continue to read Psa. 89. Today's affirmation is a double header. The former was shared with me by my sister of the heart in Tennessee: Anger is like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die. The latter by by my friend in the nation's capital: Life isn't about how fast you run, or how high you climb; it's about how well you bounce. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Sunday, November 21, 2010

 

As a young coed at a university in the hills of Tennessee, I qualified for the school's Honors Program because of my elevated scores on the entry examinations. I was enrolled in advanced classes and was required to write a thesis upon graduating, even at the undergraduate level. One of my classes required us to read books and analyze them during discussions. The best part of the deal was that I was privy to a library available only to Honor students, but it was also in that room that I experienced some of my worse memories. Because of the demands placed upon me, I wasn't always able to complete the weekly novel. So, I would read the beginning, middle and end. And, I have always had the gift of gab. Not nice. One of the books was entitled "Five Smooth Stones." You will recall it was with such weapons with which young David slew Goliath. Well, the novel wasn't about David at all. It was about an interracial romance and its ramifications. The remaining psalms of this section were probably not written by David either. They are historical in nature and an author was not provided. The first presented in the chronological bibile I use is Psa. 102. The editor uses the following caption to introduce it: Nation's prayer is like that of an afflicted man. Dr. McGee considers it to be a messianic psalm. But, I experienced difficulty finding a connection. It begins, Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. Continuing: For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers...All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse. Later, But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come. That is one of the few verses that appear to be Messianic in nature. I think it is indeed historical, but references their captivity in Babylon. Then why is it included with the book of Psalms? Well, I am not sure. So, there. It appears to be prophetic. And, if David didn't write it, who did? I don't know. And neither does F. LaGard Smith, the editor of my bible of choice. If you  read it long enough, the bible interprets itself it is often said. Later in this same psalm, it seems to do just that. It says, Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord. Israel's history is remembered in Psa. 106. It also is a prayer for the people's return. Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Later, the people confess. It says, We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly. When our fathers were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake to make his mighty power known. I encourage you to complete the reading of this psalm. I will not provide details as we have previously studied the events. It ends: Save us, O  Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say "Amen!" Praise the Lord. Psa. 123 was termed, the "eye of hope" psalm by Dr. McGee. Please read this short prayer for mercy. We will conclude with consideration of Psa. 137. Most psalms are songs of praise but this one laments Israel's captivity in Babylon. By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" Next stanza explains why the deviation from a melody of praise: How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my  right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. Upcoming feature will be Daniel's Apocalyptic Visions. Today's affirmation: If God is for me, who shall be against me? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Sunday, November 28, 2010

 

Oh, No! We're going back to Daniel. Yes. And, it makes sense if you learn to think outside of the box. Daniel didn't go away while the other prophets were prophesying. He was at the palace. Ten to twelve years have passed since anything has been heard from him, according to the editor of the bible I use. And he has served several kings. Many of whom were murdered. In the case of Nabonidus, he was technically the ruler of Babylonia until about 539 B.C. but he fled to northern Arabia when he was strongly opposed by priests of Marduk, who objected to his introduction of the moon-god, Sin. In 552 B.C. his son Belshazzar became a co-regent and now rules the rapidly declining empire. This occurance turned out to be nightmarish for archaeologist. They considered it a breach in the veracity of the Scriptures. Most pastors avoid preaching from the book of Daniel, not to mention Revelation. But I have learned to press forward as God does not want us to be fearful. And I was, at one time, filled with fear. About flying, among other things. An old cliche says, if you are going to pray don't worry and if you are going to worry don't pray. So, now we are launching into prophetic dreams. This submission will be a mini one, but the next will reveal the dream of four beasts. As I am not a theologian, and am thankful to some extent for my naivite, I go where wise men fear to tread. Today's affirmation was taken from Streaming Faith Daily Devotional and written by Dr. Zachery Tims, Jr. He said, If the devil had his way, you would be dead. He had plans to make you lose your mind, jump off a bridge, take you out with drugs, get you shot up in an alley. The good news is the angel of Mercy said, "No!" Most of us survived many things that would have taken the average person out. We  outlasted the storms, we weren't beaten down by the attacks, we pressed our way to win the victory. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

 

Submitted Saturday, December 4, 2010

 

Am I on a roll or what? Three submissions in the same night. This entry will present as a prelude to a virtually verse-by-verse presentation of chapter seven of Daniel. I have often mentioned to my husband that my favorite gift from him is my GPS. It was recently that it saved me time and almost my life as well. An acquaintance asked me to pick her up from a location on the other side of town. Lacking keen hearing, I thought she spelled the name of the street using one letter but later discovered that somehow I must have misunderstood. Realizing that the GPS is rarely wrong, I guessed the letter and drove into the darkness in search of her. And it was dark. The navigational system told me that 'I had reached my destination,' yet I could not locate the house. Her phone was disconnected. Desperate, I pulled over and yelled from the fortress of my car door, inquiring if they knew her. Dangerous, yes. Fortunately, I survived it and discovered the number of the house in question to be hidden by foilage. And there were no identifiers on the mailbox. Mind you, she had never given me instructions. A general vacinity would have helped. It is only with the GPS that I follow a step-by-step procedure. I am a different sort of learner. I want to know where I am going before you direct me. And, I am assuming there are others like me. So, before we tackle chapter seven, I will give you a generic view. Halley's Bible Handbook helped clarify some smokey details. This is my second reference to this work. It said, the prophecy is a continuation of chapter two. We have discussed this already. Sixty years have passed between the two, the statue and the vision of the four beasts. In chapter seven the same world empires are represented as a lion, a bear, a leopard and a terrifying beast. The Handbook says, The fourth beast may also correspond to the imagery of the seven-headed, 10-horned beast of Revelation 13. The "ten horns" of the fourth beast, which may correspond to the 10 toes of chapter two, are taken to be the 10 kings or kingdoms into which the Roman Empire was divided. The Handbook continues, Prophetically, the 10 horns may refer to a powerful 10-nation confederacy that will form in the last days. Some believe that this confederacy may arise in the geographic area that was once the Old Roman empire (which, unlike the three kingdoms before it, was never conquered and destroyed but fell though internal corruption.) The "other horn" may refer to the Antichrist. That is enough to whet your appetites. The next submission will get to the nitty gritty. Today's affirmation: Is it worth it? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Monday, December 13, 2010

 

Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow but a vision. But today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. This was shared with me by my legal eagle friend in the nation's capital. Tonight was another restless one. Now, don't misunderstand. I have nocturnal peace. But sometimes it's as if the Holy Spirit is tugging on my heart and wants me to get up and either pray or post a submission. I have delayed the consideration of the seventh chapter of Daniel with editorials as the Holy Spirit was not ready to have me share it. I am now ready to do so. The background has been previously provided. As much as I desire and in my limited fashion, I would like to present this on a verse-by-verse basis as is so skillfully done at my church. But, I am going to submit a generic approach to this chapter, yet give you the nit and the grit of it all. Daniel had more than one vision of the four beasts. It covered the gentile times, which began with Babylon and ends with the ruling by Christ. Dr. McGee brings out the point that Christ's rulership will be a dictatorship. He will do things His way. The material covered here happened around 552B.C. The chapter begins, In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. And it is the "substance" that I attempt to impart to you. In his dream, Daniel saw the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. The great sea appears to represent the Gentiles. I won't belabor an analogy between the beasts and the statue from the dream of the king of Babylon. That has been done. The chapter continues, "The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle..." In this verse it references the restoration of the king's sanity when it says, he stood on two feet like a man. He had spent time as a beast for punishment by God. The lion represented the Babylonian empire. Continuing, "And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear...and it had three ribs in its mouth between his teeth." The three ribs symbolize a trio of nations. Then, Daniel saw a leopard (panther). This beast had four heads. While the bear visualized Medo/Persia, the leopard corresponds to Greco/Macedonia. And the four heads of the beast epitomizes the four generals who assumed power of that empire. The fourth beast is next and it has ramifications for us today. "After that, in my vision at night I looked and there before me was a fourth beast_terryfying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth...It was different from all the other beasts, and it had ten horns. (remember the ten toes of the statue). "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them..." This little horn, according to Dr. McGee is the anti-Christ. I have often wondered about this terminology. As my son-in-law says, 'it is what it is.' In other words, this leader is against Christ, yet wants to be like Christ. My mentor, Dr. McGee thinks that we are deep into the fulfillment of this prophecy and that we are presently living in the time of the fourth beast. The anti-Christ will be a dictator and represent the remnants of the Roman empire, which was never destroyed. In simple terms, they will be Europeans. The "little horn" will come before Christ's Second Coming. It may be interesting to note that the first six chapters of Daniel are historic, while the remainder are prophetic. Later in verses 15-18 and in subsequent verses of this chapter, the word "saints" is referenced. Beginning in verse 15: "I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this. "So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: "The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever_yes, for ever and ever.' "Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws_the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. ...As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom..." The identity of the saints is debatable. Most want to assume they are New Testament saints. But, Dr. McGee says that may not be so. At least, not exclusively. Some will be remnants of the nation of Israel. I have done my best to present this clearly and simply and hope that I have succeeded. Today's affirmation: Freedom is a journey. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


EDITORIAL: THE HEART OF THE MATTER

 

I had a tete-a-tete with my sister of the heart in Tennessee. Recently recovered from another bout with depression, she has continued her life where it seemed to have ended. She has returned to work and resumed a healthy relationship with her beloved daughters. During our chit chat, she asked me if I was knowledeable about certain facts regarding the illness. In particular, she pointed out that those suffering from depression prior to the present onset are more likely to return to their state of melancholy. And she gave me the percentages. 'Did you know that?' she questioned. Of course, I had lived it. I had many bouts with the malady during my twenty year struggle. Many of you are wondering why I don't mention such statistics. Well, I am not concerned with them. I will leave that to the mental health community. I, on the other hand, do not find it a matter of interest. Albeit important, the condition of the seat of emotions peaks my curiosity more than a bunch of numbers. The bible speaks volumes about the heart. Ps. 51:10-12 says, Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Do you understand that scripture, my friend, and can you apply it to your life? While counseling and medication are invaluable in helping you on the road to recover, your heart condition is equally important. You must carve out the source of the problem, just as a surgeon removes the part of the body creating your physical issues. You cannot ignore these facts. To do so will result in a return of your illness. If that were not the case, why are there so many with mental illness who do not improve, even with medication and counseling. There must be another element. I have spent much time discussing this fact. So, if you don't understand why you are not getting better, perhaps you should consider your "heart condition." There is medicine for that as well and it is found in the Holy Scriptures.

 

 

Submitted Wednesday, December 22, 2010

 

What would you do if your pastor were to announce in church one day that 'next week's sermon will be on Daniel, Chapter eight, the vision of the Ram and Goat?' Some may appreciate the warning and stay away and the dedicated will be most reluctant. How does one explain the unexplainable? Well, that is what I am going to try to do. The last verse of the chapter expresses why I made that statement: I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding. So, if Daniel didn't understand it, what makes me think I do. Well, he comprehended some of its meaning but may not be able to foresee its ramifications. When Daniel wrote, he did so as though looking through a door into the future. And in this case, the not so distant futurity. When John writes in Revelation, he is looking through the back door upon a vision transpiring at the end of times. Daniel, however, writes of the time of the end. Many may think that prophecy is best left alone as it contains that which we are not to understand. That is an excuse as the bible interprets itself. If it is in the Holy Scripture, it is meant to be understood. Others may think I am simply echoing the words of my mentor, the late Dr. McGee. Well, many of these utterances are of my own understanding and I challenge you to do it even after reading the words of another. It cannot be done without the Holy Spirit, can it not? Let's get started. Beginning in Chapter 8: In the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa (Capital of Persia, parenthesis my own) in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south (Persia was in the east, parenthesis my own). No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. Dr. McGee says that this was written in Hebrew rather than the language of the nations, Aramic. As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. (Greece was from the west, under the leadership of Alexander the Great. Parenthesis, my own) He came toward the two horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. (The two horns represent the Medo-Persian empire, parenthesis my own)....The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat (Greece, parenthesis my own) knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power...So, we see Greece pouncing on the Medo-Persian empire and over-powering them. The goat became very great, but at the height of his power (Alexander the Great, parenthesis my own) his large horn was broken off (Alexander the Great died, parenthesis my own) and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven. (the empire was divided among four leaders, parenthesis my own). Out of one of them (Seleucid, parenthesis my own) came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land (Israel is the Beautiful Land, parenthesis my own)...The identity of the little horn of this chapter is highly debated. Many think it was Antiochus IV. He reportedly hated Jews and God as well. Continuing, Then I heard a holy one speaking and another holy one (a supernatural being, Gabriel makes his first appearance; parenthesis my own) said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled_the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the santuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?" (Antiochus desecrated the temple; Dr. McGee said he boiled pigs and washed down the walls of the temple with the mixture, parenthesis my own) He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." (The Maccubees reclaimed Syria, parenthesis my own). The little horn in this vision is a little picture of the anti-Christ to come. Now, please read verses 15-26 for the blatant interpretation and compare it with what has previously been said. Much of my understanding came from the explanations of Dr. McGee and he is to be given credit for it. But I credit the Holy Spirit for my ability to absorb the information. Critics say that Daniel wrote this information after the fact. In other words, it is considered historical rather than prophetic. Today's affirmation comes from my friend in Washington, D. C: When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others. (Chinese Proverb) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


EDITORIAL: WHAT IS THIS PROPHECY THING?

 

At this point some of my friends with depression are becoming dismayed because I have not directly addressed their issues. I have written a similar editorial but feel the need for another as I dive deeply into prophecy. What in the world does Daniel have to do with me and my problems? Many ask this question albeit they may not be depressed. When you have depression, you should concentrate on the future rather than the past. Where you are headed rather than where you have been. That is what prophecy does for us. It gives us a glimpse of the future. But, prophecy is a biblical glance that doesn't affect me, you may ponder. The entire bible affects you, my friend. Especially prophecy. I have often mentioned the fact that your "heart condition" is the barometer of your emotional state. If you do not believe that there is hope for you in biblical terms, how can you ever wish for change in  your personal lives? Prophecy gives you hope. It lets you know that there is relief on the horizon. That there is a bright shining light at the end of your tunnel. We have often discussed demonic influence, and I probably have irritated the mental health community when I say that it often contributes to depression. However, I am adamant in my respect for treatment. Keep looking towards the future. Prophecy helps you to do just that. So, while I may not directly address you, it is your population that is most affected by prophecy.


 

 

Submitted Sunday, December 26, 2010

 

The handwriting is on the wall. Your days are numbered. I am sure that created a stir in some of you. Of course, I am just trying to get your attention, but in the fifth chapter of Daniel, Belshazzar really did see a literal hand on the wall and his days were indeed numbered. This is a familiar chapter of Daniel. The visions are abandoned when it comes to their presentation in sermons, but this  account does get some "air time." Unfortunately, it is preached rather than taught. F. LaGard Smith introduces the segment by saying that Daniel had slipped into obscurity for about seven years. He was aging and as is often the case has lost some of his influence. Starting in Daniel 5:1-4 we are thrown right into the setting of what is to come. It says, King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father  had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. It appears that the term "father" in this passage may very well reference Nebuchadnezzar as his grandfather. His father was Nebonidus who had skipped town following a rift in loyalty leaving his son as coregent. Be aware that many assumed the book of Daniel lacked authenticity because Belshazzar's name could not be found in relics by archaeologists or historians. The fact that he was coregent and acting as king may have added to the confusion. In verses five and six God moves in: Suddenly the fingers of human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. After a night of drinking, it wasn't difficult for his legs to seem to fail him and he probably thought he was seeing a vision. It didn't take long for him to realize what was transpiring and Dan. 5:7-9 tell how he called in his magicians and offered a bribe to he who could interpret the action. Verses 10-16 reveal how the Queen came in to save the day, so to speak. She mentioned Daniel and told Belshazzar about all of the things he had done for Nebuchadnezzar. The scripture continues, So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, "Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom...." Notice, he said third rather that second, authenticating Daniel's account of his status as second in command. Daniel explained why this has happened. Belshazzar hadn't learned a lesson from his grandfather. Remember how he was reduced to residing as an animal? The king was arrogant and the banquet, according to Dr. McGee, was probably held as an act of defiance after seeing that he was being attacked by the Medes and Persians. Dan.:23-28 explain the meaning of the handwriting. It reads, Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. This is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. "This is what these words mean: MENE: GOD HAS NUMBERED THE DAYS OF YOUR REIGN AND BROUGHT IT TO AN END. TEKEL: YOU HAVE BEEN WEIGHED  ON THE SCALES AND FOUND WANTING. PERES (THE SINGULAR OF PARSIN, PARENTHESIS MINE):YOUR KINGDOM IS DIVIDED AND GIVEN TO THE MEDES AND PERSIANS." Belshazzar did as he promised  but that night the king of Babylon died, ending the greatest empire that ever existed. Today's affirmation comes from Pastor Mike at my church: But how do you know? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen


Submitted Thursday, December 30, 2010

 

My two year old grandtwins are in the stage of childhood development wherein they are declaring their independence. In other words, 'I am a big girl now.' Everything is either "no!" or "mine!" They will even say, 'my  MiMi.' Well, in the ninth chapter of Daniel, the most difficult for me to understand to date, our protagonist gives a beautiful prayer, which could be considered the model prayer of the Old Testament, in my estimation. In it he uses the words "my God" and "my sin." The first two chapters explain how this supplication came about: In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom_in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. Verses 3-19 record Daniel's reaction. It says, So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed. You will notice that Daniel was adorned in sackcloth, not designer suits when he approached the Lord. And he prayed to himself, not in front of the congregation, using flowery words that even those engaged in the prayer don't remember. While there is no recorded act of sin on the part of Daniel, according to Dr. McGee, he confessed that he had done so, along with the nation. I will ask that you read that prayer, found in Daniel 9:3-19. Today's submission will hover around Dan.23-27. Daniel wrote this around 542 B.C. (the Hebrew children were exiled in 607 B.C., parenthesis my own). Continuing, Scripture declares, While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord  my God for his holy hill_while I was still in prayer, Gabriel (an angel most commonly associated with the New Testament, parenthesis my own) came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, "Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision: (if Gabriel had to give insight to Daniel, then I do not feel amiss in my explanation when I do not and cannot explain every detail of the vision, parenthesis my own) As is my fashion, I will present an overview and then fill in the details of its interpretation. First, realize that this is a debated passage. It is probably the most profound one found in the bible. In it, Daniel foretells the coming of Jesus Christ. The date of the beginning of his ministry can be pinpointed, for one thing. In my understanding, Daniel thought the vision was predicting the coming of a king who will save Israel, just as was anticipated in the New Testament and may remain the hope of the nation of Israel. In order to accept the validity of this prophecy you must use common sense. You must be able to put things within its context. Next, you must realize that the Jewish calendar is different from the Gregorian (the one we presently use, parenthesis my own.) It does not alter the computation. Speaking of mathematical prowess, I lack it. When people advise, 'you do the math,' I can't. Therefore, I will leave the exact formulary to the capable; Pastor Mike of my church did an excellent job of its presentation during one of his sermons.  Before I embark upon the futurity of the prophecy, I will reflect briefly upon previously referenced material. We mentioned the little horn in a previous chapter and he was identified as Antiochus Epiphanes of the Syrian branch of the Greek Empire. The phrase 'time of the end' was used in association with his appearance rather than the 'end of time.' The ramifications of this prophetic vision goes beyond that time and prefigures another little horn which will take us into the Second Coming of Christ. Here we go with now and later candy. Yet, it illustrates my point. The prophecy of seven 'sevens' means it will take 49 years to rebuild the city. Seventy 'sevens' period of time will pass before the Messiah. Even I can figure, if you substitute "years" for "weeks" it is understood to mean seventy weeks of years times seven years or 490 years. We have mentioned the symbolic nature of the number seven. It means completeness. The date from which the seventy weeks (or years, parenthesis my own) was to be counted started from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. So, even I know that you must figure from the time the edict was issued to rebuild the city. Well, there is confusion about the exact time. It is accepted that it was 458 B.C. by some. Now, the rest is up to you. I found a chart on the internet but it was of a copyrighted nature and I did not want to reference it, but it computed the time to days using both the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian one. Now, lets get into further meaning of the vision. In verses 24 and 25 it says: "Seventy 'sevens' (unit of measurement which has to mean years rather than a literal week as we know it, parenthesis my own) are derived for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (several dates are recorded, parenthesis my own) until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens' (49 years, referencing time in which the city will be rebuilt, parenthesis my own) and sixty-two 'seven's' (434 years; or coming of the Messiah; some compute it on the basis of 69 years, parenthesis my own). It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.  The last few verses, 26-27 give Gabriel's explanation." After the six-two 'sevens; the Anointed will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood; War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wind, of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."  The prophecy has been fulfilled for the most part except for the seventieth year. What will happen during this time? The anti-Christ must come and so will the Great Tribulation. That is as far as I can take you. It may not have been entirely convincing for the skeptic but today's affirmation is the bible's response to those with that attitude. It was suggested by my buddy in Washington, D.C.: For we walk by faith, not by sight. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

 

EDITORIAL: STUDYING THE OLD TESTAMENT IS GETTING "OLD"

 

Many Christians like to ignore or minimize the importance of the Old Testament. They think it is written by and for Hebrew children. Notice I avoid the use of the word "Jew." From information provided in my bible of choice, the name emerged after they began to repatriate back to Jerusalem. I am a member of a minority race and hate the use of assigned labels. You would think after spending four hours posting my last submissions, and time engaged in research, that I would be too tired to continue. Granted, I have struggled with the Old Testament, especially Daniel, Chapter Nine which was recently posted. But, I was inspired to write this editorial. I am getting antsy as some of you to enter into the solution provided by the Messiah that were presented as problems in the Old Testament. But, doesn't it make sense to understand the entire puzzle rather than bits and pieces. And it is just that _ a puzzle. A wonderful one, I might add. Prophecies are referenced in the New Testament. If you haven't read the Old, you will not completely benefit from the Scripture cited. Jesus has been mentioned so often in the Old Testament that I dare not attempt to assign a number to its references. So, why is it so difficult to understand the significance of the Old Testament? Would you go out of the house wearing one shoe? People might think you strange. Well, I think you strange when you bark against mention of the Old Testament. And how about the culmination of the bible_Revelation. Without prior knowledge provided in such prophecies as the one we just studied, it would be very difficult to understand. Perhaps that is why most pastors avoid it. They have a void in their knowledge of the bible. After struggling with the recent prophecies I have discussed, I don't think Revelation frightens me as much. We still have one more vision by Daniel. It elaborates on the King of the North and the King of the South. So, as far as I am concerned I am better equipped and less likely to avoid discussion of Revelation. We have already had some of them in the Old Testament. There is no getting around it: the Old Testament is important.

 

 

 

 

 

Submitted Thursday, January 6, 2011

 

After posting the last submission from Daniel 9, I understood why Daniel said he took to his bed for several days. It was just that difficult to understand and explain. In fact, following its completion I felt as if I needed a "stiff" drink. Yes, I said that. I haven't had a drink, beyond sipping a taste of non-alchoholic champagne at a wedding celebration, in over thirty years. Not that I was ever a problem drinker. There was an issue of contraindication. But, just this once I wanted to throw caution to the wind. And would have, had it not been for my husband who intercepted me. He warned that I would regret the move. I felt as if I were in a lions' den. Albeit a weak one, this is my segue into the next discussion of one of the most familiar accounts in the bible. I recently heard a speaker admit that he used the term "segue" when he didn't know what else to say. That is not the case with me. I know exactly what I want to say. I simply use it as a transition. This entry will encompass Daniel six. Written around 541-540 B.C., verses 1-3 tell us: It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps (princes, parenthesis my own) to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and satraps  by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Of course, the green-eyed monstor of jealousy emerged among the other rulers. They couldn't find fault with Daniel, so they decided to find his achilles heel. And they knew that it would be with the law of his God. That may be your problem, my friends. You may be the victim of jealousy. Never underestimate its power to incapacitate. Dan. 6:6-9 expound: So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O king Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. Now,  O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered_in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." So King Darius put the decree in writing. Things haven't changed much throughout the ages. Politicians remain prideful and vanity is often their downfall. When Daniel learned of the decree, he continued to pray three times a day, looking towards Jerusalem. Daniel had conviction and courage. Verses 11-15 tell us what happened when the king (who liked Daniel, parenthesis my own) realized that Daniel would be affected. "When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Verses 16-18 tell us that the king encouraged Daniel. Scripture reads, The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you.!" A stone sealed the den, but not Daniel's fate. The king had a restless night and arose at dawn to check on Daniel. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" And the rest is history. The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The conspirators were killed in the same manner in which they had planned for Daniel_thrown into the lions' den. Today's affirmation: I realize that the devil is walking about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1Peter 5:8) God can deliver me from my den of depression. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

 

Submitted Friday, January 14, 2011

 

Today's submission begins with my having "egg" on my face. In a previous entry, (which has since been corrected, parenthesis my own) I mentioned the usage of the term "Jew" began with the Romans. However, the editor of the bible of my choice states that it was assigned them around the time of repatriation. In other words, around the period when their exile terminated and they began to return home_albeit in dribblets. We are scooting into the New Testament, slowly but surely. The Period of Restoration will be considered first. Three of the books are historical and the remaining three prophetic. It can be dated to around 535-425 B.C. Then the end of Old Testament record is dated from 425-5 B.C. But, let me explain how I was finally motivated to post this entry. I was asleep in bed. And, suddenly I had the most horrifying dream. I will spare you of the details. After springing from bed, I noticed my husband was still awake watching television. I shared a little of what had transpired. And he asked me, 'was all of it a bad dream?' Then, I began to recapitulate what had happened to me, and discovered a ray of hope amid the horror. I will not attempt to define it as I do not want to give the impression that I consider myself a prophet. But, God has His way of getting us to do His will, does He not? I was happy to get up and post this prayer. The Israelite exiles, however, were not thrilled over their new found freedom and most of them decided to remain in Babylon after Cyrus king of Persia issued a decree freeing them to return. Why? They had made investments in Babylon. They owned houses, businesses; had learned to speak the language.  The Israelites didn't want to upset the apple cart. Let us start from the beginning. I will reflect upon the introduction to their first return to Jerusalem provided by F. LaGard Smith. He indicated that the Persian Empire had proven to be a real blessing to the exiled nation of Israel. They were considerate of them. Unlike the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Persians  encouraged the nation to return home. They thought that happy people would be less likely to rebel. Also, it fulfilled prophecy. Isaiah had predicted Cyrus would allow the Israelites to return home. (He provided his name, but Jeremiah also prophesied, parenthesis my own). Ezra 1:1-4 says, In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing. "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: " 'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalelm in Judah. Anyone of his people among you_may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.' " Please review Ezra 1:7-11 for details of what was returned to them to be placed in the temple (Nebuchadnezzar had carried them away and placed them in the house of his gods. Also, King Belshazzar had foolishly used them for drinks at a banquet the night he saw the writing on the wall. Parenthesis my own) In all there were 5400 articles of gold and of silver. At Ezra 2:1-35, the people declare their pedigree. Please read it later. Approximately 50,000 people returned. Chapter Three, Verses 1-6 tell of how the altar was rebuilt. Later, at verses 8-9 the foundation was laid to the chagrin of the senior Israelites who were comparing it to the temple of old. Today's affirmation: I can see that much of prophecy has evolved and I must be aware that its totality will emerge. I have much to which I can look forward. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

 

EDITORIAL: THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING

 

So far, from my study of the Hebrew text, I don't recall the direct use of the word "demon" or "evil spirit." However, there is much discussion of pagan worship, which translates into the same thing in my book. The proof I will present that evil spirits actually exist will be extracted from the New Testament. Mention of the Greek Scriptures or New Testament will serve as a rift among some who dared to read the prayers the Lord has inspired me to post. My open-minded Hebrew friends may draw the line here. But don't tune me out yet. I have made many references to demonic influence, yet have failed to provide proof to date. Well, let us navigate to the New Testament, a section of the bible to which we are headed. At Mark 5: 1-20 we find this revelation: They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God. Swear to God that you won't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them. He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man_and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. ANY QUESTIONS?

 

 

Submitted Monday, January 17, 2011

 

The prophet Daniel seems to be popping up all over the place. Well, that is because he lived a long time and served several monarchs. This is his last vision. To be quite honest about the matter, I am ambivalent. I enjoyed the challenge and am relieved that the knowledge the Holy Spirit allowed me will be used in other chapters. But, both my husband and I are sighing as we come to the end of the book of Daniel. The last three chapters_ten, eleven and twelve are presented as one vision. I call them a trilogy. I will introduce each and discuss them individually in spite of their single revelation. Borrowing from the introduction presented by F. LaGard Smith, editor of my bible of choice, we learn that the vision appeared to Daniel in the same year the temple foundation is laid and the restoration is begun in earnest. Chapter ten begins in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia.  The vision presents information that has already taken place as well as that which is to come_sort of like my now and later candy bar. I will tip through the New Testament, stopping at Ephesians 6:10-18 to validate what was recently discussed in an editorial regarding evidence that demons exist. Daniel, during the beginning of the trilogy was allowed to look upon a spiritual warfare that is usually invisible to the eye. I will discuss this in detail later. For now, turn with me to what Paul wrote in Ephesians. It is getting a little difficult not to reference the New Testament more often, as we approach it. In fact, the demarcation between the two, Hebrew and Greek Scriptures is too defined as far as I am concerned. Beginning with verse ten: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everthing, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Next time we will consider chapter ten. Today's affirmation comes from Pastor Mike at my church: I will be content with the simple things of life. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

 

Submitted Friday, January 21, 2011

 

Whenever I grow up, I think I want to be like Daniel. He was productive all of his life. Now in retirement, he continues his work for the Lord. Life wasn't always easy for him as you know. He was thrown into a pit of lions and smelled death all around him. But even now, after he has apparently been relieved of active civil duty, Daniel continues to have profound visions that will affect the near and distant future. Daniel 10:1-3 say, In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, (Cyrus gave a decree for the Hebrew children to return home and re-build the temple during his first year, parenthesis my own) a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. The verses continue: At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food, no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. Some of you, my friends, may feel as did Daniel. Verses 4-6 reveal, On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightening, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. Dr. McGee thinks this is a vision of the post incarnate Christ. As we examine Daniel's reaction to the vision in 10:7-9, we must realize that Daniel was accompanied by others but was the only one who saw the vision. Dr. McGee illuminates the fact that sometimes God reveals things to us while we are alone and that society emphasizes being gregarious but that solitude can be a good thing. Scripture reads: I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground. It appears to me that there are times when these prophets must have dangled between sanity and insanity. The Word continues: A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, "Daniel, you are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you." And when he said this to me, I stood up, trembling. Continuing, Then he continued, "Do not be afraid Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding (which is what I desire, parenthesis my own) and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them (this heavenly body was probably Gabriel, parenthesis my own). But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, (the arch angel, parenthesis my own) one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with  the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will  happen to your people (Hebrew children, parenthesis my own) in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come." Daniel was allowed to get a glimpse of the spiritual warfare that takes place in the invisible world. Dr. McGee thinks that Satan has his army and there is the army of God. And this has been revealed in other scriptures. Please see the previous submission. He goes further to say that our prayers are sometimes hindered for this very reason. Continuing: While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, "I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe. Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. "Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong. Today's affirmation: I will be strong. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen.Amen.


 

Submitted Friday, January 28, 2011

 

Imagine if you will, a period in early American history when the Jamestown Colonies were established (around 1600, parenthesis my own). Consider someone living in that time period predicting that one day there would be an African who would be elected president of the United States. At this time, the states were not even united. Then, in 2008 this became an actuality. What would  you think? Wouldn't you consider the fact that the person making such prediction must have lived at a later time in history? Much later. Some may ask, 'what about Nostradamus'? He lived about a hundred years before the Jamestown Colonies were formed. Yet, some believe his quadrants could be used to interpret current world events. Well, from whom did he get his powers, if the predictions are indeed accurate. The skeptic may ask the same of Daniel. Of that I am aware.  Well, the prophecies of Daniel were recorded in God's Holy Word. That seals it for me. Rather than less challenging, chapters 11 and 12 continue to rattle my brain. But, with the direction of the Holy Spirit, and assistance from Dr. McGee, I am able to put the puzzle together as well as can be expected by a novice, one who does so without a background in Theology. In order to understand these chapters, you must remember that it is one vision, albeit I have divided them for the sake of simplicity. Also, you must draw upon the information given in previous visions, starting with the image of the statue. They are sequential, with one building upon the other. In an effort to provide a brief overview, I will reflect upon information found in the introduction written by F. LaGard Smith referencing the Kings of the North and the Kings of the South. Much of the drama of this submission will involve them. Besides Cyrus, the four Persian kings may well be Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius and the greatest of them, Xerxes. If Egypt is the king of the South, then perhaps the kings referred to are the Ptolemies: Soter, Philadelphus and his daughter Bernice and Ptolemy Philopator. If the Seleucid kingdom of Syria is the kingdom of the North, then perhaps the kings referred to are Antiochus III, Antiochus Ephiphanes, who will desecrate the temple and bring a temporary end to sacrificing. I will attempt to explain as much as I can as we examine the scriptures. In other words, I will give you your "food" at the proper time. Finally, be aware that this prophecy serves as a bridge between the New and Old Testament, the worse time of suffering for God's people. Chapter eleven continues where the previous one ends. It begins, Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others (Xerxes, parenthesis my own). When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king (Alexander the Great, parenthesis my own), who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven (it was divided among four generals. That is where the Ptolemies, etc derived. Parenthesis, my own). It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. That will serve as our backdrop. Dan. 5-20 speak of the king of the South and the king of the North. Summarily, Egypt and Syria formed an alliance through marriage. But it didn't work out as Bernice (some spell it Berenice, parenthesis my own) was poisoned by the very wife the king divorced to marry Bernice following a reunion. Later in that scripture Cleopatra (who was Greek, parenthesis my own) was introduced. She, too, served as a buttress to unite kingdoms, but it didn't work out when she stood by her Egyptian husband in a standoff with the King of the North. That passage ends with Rome being introduced: His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle. (Rome was never defeated, parenthesis my own), Verses 21-35 introduce a contemptible person (Antiochus Epiphanes, parenthesis my own). He was evil and desecrated the temple. Dr. McGee calls him the "Nero of the Old Testament." He is considered the little horn mentioned in previous submissions. (this is not "the" little horn to arise during the Great Tribulation). The Maccabees are discussed in Dr. McGees' exposition. Albeit not a part of scripture, he is convinced that they were blessed by God when they rescued Syria.  This chapter ends on a future note. In other words, this is where prophecy really begins because the earlier mention of empires has taken place historically. It references the antichrist who will "do as he pleases." This scripture goes into the time of the end but chapter twelve references the end of time. Chapter twelve concludes the vision, but certainly not the prophecy as it is yet to be revealed. It has been sealed. It speaks of the Great Tribulation. Concluding in Dan. 12:5-12: The man clothed in linen, (mentioned at the beginning of the vision, parenthesis my own), who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and a half (three and a half years). When the power of the people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." Today's Affirmation: I am only human. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

Submitted February 4, 2011

 

When I was a sprig, I enjoyed singing a song that was more a game than a lyrical presentation. It was called "The Name Game." You had to insert rhythmic substitutions as the singer sang different names. The first letter was dropped and other rhymes building upon the previous were used.  And, it had a swaying beat. Well, the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of Ezra could very well be labeled "The Name Game." Not to mention the blame game.   Information gleaned from the introduction to the chapters by F. LaGard Smith tells us that from 536 B.C. until 522 B.C. work on the temple came to a halt. Let us see how that came about. The surrounding areas near Jerusalem started to complain after seeing the progress being made on rebuilding the temple. So, they started to register their displeasure with the ruling parties. This is where the confusion starts. The first formal accusation against Israel was made during the reign of Cambyses, who took control of the Persian Empire following the death of his father, Cyrus. He is referred to as Xerxes, according to Smith. But, this is more title than anything else. Smith cautions about confusing him with the greater Xerxes. That is the first name game. While Cambyses was whipping Egypt a coup occurred and Smerdis, his half-brother, was killed to be replaced by a pseudo-Smerdis. This is the second phase of the name game. Then, added in this blender of confusion is the fact that this false Smerdis was known as Artaxerxes, not to be confused with the better-known one who came on the scene sixty years later. Got it? Ezra the prophet, who was a priest by profession, tells in Ezra 4:7-16 that in the days of Artaxerxes king of Persia some other leaders of Trans-Euphrates wrote this lesser known Artaxerxes a letter opposing the progress being made on the reconstruction of the temple. They questioned the decree made by Cyrus granting the Israelites permission to return home and ressurect their house of worship. Artaxerxes, being the kind of fellow he was, stopped the rebuilding. But then, Cambyse died (possibly from suicide) and Darius took the reigns. And the temple work restarted. Please read the communication between Darius and the Trans-Euphrates leaders. In a nutshell, it questioned the decree made by Cyrus to permit the Israelites to return and get on with the business of rebuilding the temple. Ezra 6:1-5 confirms this action by Cyrus, and Darius sends his own decree. Please examine it at Ezra 6:6-12. It basically tells them to back off. My mentor, the late Dr. McGee, says that as we arrive at this point in Ezra, if he had his way he would go directly to Haggai and Zechariah. And that is what the editor of my bible of choice does. When I chose Dr. McGee, I had no idea that he thought as did F. LaGard in his chronlogical arrangement of the bible. Today's affirmation: Sometimes I have to use my imagination to get from one day to another. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ.  Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


 

 

Submitted Friday, February 11, 2011

 

Consider this your wake up call. I am referencing those of you who fail to tithe ten percent of your earnings to the Lord. Pastor Mike, lead minister at my church, has spoken on this subject a time or two. He said that the practice originated in the Old Testament but is also relevant for the New. I find it odd that a God who provides all things is the last to be considered when it is time to return a small portion of that which was given. Some say, 'I tithe with my time and services.' Not! That won't make the grade. The Lord's house and his "priests" must be cared for. It was true when the Shekinah Glory rested over the temple and it holds water for us today. Provisions for tithing should come off the top, as it were. As we enter Haggai, a mini presentation of two powerful chapters, it centers around the issue of caring for the temple. Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries. We will study the latter next. Haggai was the senior statesman, if you will consider him such, who was probably a remnant of those who were taken to Babylon as slaves. He remembered the old temple in all its glory. But Zechariah, more than likely, was born in captivity, according to F. LaGard Smith. While other major prophets took the high road to prophesying, Haggai took the low. The two messianic predictions are subtle. Though brief, Haggai is heavily documented. Let's get going with this significant little book. Haggai 1:1-11 begin, In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, (September first 520 B.C., parenthesis mine but information from Dr. McGee) the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the High priest. This is what the Lord Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the Lord's house to be built.'" Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" Later, the Lord makes it clear why the people are not prospering. He says He is withholding the rain. He is the source of their problems. My friends, like it or not, that may be something for you to consider. Why? Perhaps the Lord is trying to get your attention. The people listen to God and obeyed. And God told them, in Haggai 1:12,13: "I am with you."This is considered, by Dr. McGee, to be the second message and was delivered around September 24th, 520 B.C. The third message was given on October 21, 520 B.C. God tells His people to be strong. Those who could remember are wailing because the new structure pales in comparison to Solomon's temple. At the end of message three a messianic prophecy is referenced: '...The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty." Haggai 2:10-14 constitutes message four and it is presented as a riddle of sorts. In essence it tells the people: Just because you are working on the temple it doesn't sanctify you unless your lifestyle is holy. This is message four. Please read how it was written. I like to put it thusly, one must be cautious of one's 'heart condition.' Haggai ends with message five, cited at Haggai 2:20-23. It was written on December 24, 520 B.C., the second time a message was sent that day. Read the conclusion and see if you can determine the nature of the prophecy. Today's affirmation: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33). Additonally, Lord, prop me up on the leaning side. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do  you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

EDITORIAL: FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

The following ideas are NOT my own. They are the words of an unknown author, but I thought of you, my friends, when they were sent me by a buddy.

 

THERE'S ALWAYS A LITTLE TRUTH BEHIND EVERY 'JUST KIDDING.'

A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE BEHIND EVERY 'I DON'T KNOW.'

A LITTLE EMOTION BEHIND EVERY 'I DON'T CARE.'

A LITTLE LOVE BEHIND EVERY 'I HATE YOU.!'

A LITTLE UNEASINESS BEHIND EVERY 'I'M OKAY.'

A LITTLE PAIN BEHIND EVERY 'FORGET IT.'

A LITTLE HOPE BEHIND EVERY 'GOODBYE.'

AND A LITTLE 'SOMETHING' BEHIND EVERY 'NOTHING.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted Tuesday, February 22, 2011

 

Approximately one-quarter of the bible is prophetic, according to the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee, my mentor. It appears to be greater in my estimation. The first prophecy occurs in Genesis and, of course, it extends through Revelation. After completion of Daniel I thought understanding would get easier. Boy, was I wrong. It took me eight hours to study  the eight visions to be considered in Zechariah. Then, I had to make sense of, what superficially appeared, to be an unrelated mixture of prophecies of the present and future. But there is a thread that runs throughout the  images (Dr. McGee divides them into ten, parenthesis my own). F. LeGard Smith, editor of THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, says the theme is "assurance" of one form or another. Albeit assurance is a recurring idea, judgment is also a subject of the perception. In the first vision,  a guarantee is given that Israel will be restored to prosperity. Don't forget the now and later candy. We are going to need it in Zechariah as well. Dr. McGee emphasized the point that the images seen by the prophet did not appear to him while he was in a dream-like state. Rather, he was alert and he "saw" what came to him by the direct moving of God's Spirit. Zech. 1:7-17: On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (February, parenthesis my own), the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo. During the night I had a vision_and there before me was a man riding a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees (myrtle is symbolic of the nation of Israel, parenthesis my own) in a ravine. Behind him were red, (representing blood, parenthesis my own), brown and white (representing victory, parenthesis my own) horses. I asked "What are these my lord?" The angel who was talking with me answered, "I will show you what they are." Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth." The horsemen reported peace was found to exist earthwide. Continuing, Then the angel of the Lord said, "Lord Almighty, how long will you withold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?" So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. Dr. McGee considers the prophecies to have a three-fold meaning: contemporary, continuing and consuming of all things. Let us look at the second vision, promising that Israel's oppressors will be punished. Smith labels it HORNS AND CRAFTSMEN. The horns represent Gentile rulers that had destroyed Judah and Israel. The craftsmen denote destruction of those nations. Many expositors reference Rev. 17:12 when this image is explained. Zech. 1:18-21: Then I looked up_and there before me were four horns! I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these?" He answered me, "These are the horns that scattered  Judah, Israel and Jerusalem." Later four craftsmen were shown him. Scripture says they were there to terrify them. (Jesus was a craftsman or carpenter, parenthesis my own) The main idea is that Judah would again be exalted. Now, we come to the third or vision of the man with the measuring line. The man in this image is the pre-incarnate Jesus. Zech. 1:1-13 read: Then I looked up_and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! (a measuring line usually means God is going to move against someone or something, parenthesis my own) I asked, "Where are you going?" Then, it goes on to say that he was going to measure Jerusalem. This section references the millennium. It says, Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him and said to him: "Run, tell that young man, 'Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the Lord, 'and I will be its glory within.' (the Shekinah Glory will return, parenthesis my own) Scripture continues by asking them to flee from the north (Babylon, parenthesis my own) Later, God says that he who touches Israel touches the apple of His eye. Dr. McGee says (and I concur, parenthesis my own) that God has not finished with the nation of Israel. However, we must be aware that some of these events will occur in the future. Please read the remainder of Zech. 2:1-13. In the fourth vision the sins of the nation will be removed by He who is called the Branch (The Lord, Jesus Christ, parenthesis my own). In this vision we find the high priest conversing with Satan. Here is further proof that Satan is a real person. In chapter three, verses 1-10 we read: Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Later in chapter three, verses 1-10 we find Joshua, the high priest, dressed in filthy rags, representing the sins of Israel. His filthy clothes were removed and rich garments replaced them. This is a pre-vision of the atonement of Christ. It concludes: "Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch..." Please read this passage carefully as it speaks of the second coming of Jesus Christ.  In the fifth vision is assurance that God will complete his temple through his two anointed ones. What is said here is meant directly for Zerubbabel (the governor, parenthesis my own) and the temple. But there will be a greater house built by a  descendant of Zerubbabel called the Branch. The golden oil mentioned represents the Holy Spirit. Please read the remainder at a later time. The sixth vision is assurance that wickedness will always be punished. A flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide is mentioned. It is like unto a sheet and inscribed with curses that are removed by the destruction of the sinner. This can be found at Zech. 5:1-4. It is brief. Please examine it later. Then, in the seventh vision is found assurance that wicked nations will be brought to their knees. In this vision we find female protagonists. While sin is represented by a woman, it is also the female gender who symbolically removes it. Smith calls this section of Zechariah (5:5-15) WOMAN IN A BASKET. It says, Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, "Look up and see what this is that is appearing." I asked, "What is it?" He replied, "It is a measuring basket," And he added, "This is the iniguity of the people through the land." Dr. McGee sarcastically calls the woman in the basket the first female astronaut. Now, we come to the last vision which promises rest at last. In the sixth chapter, verses 1-8: I looked up again_and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains (Dr. McGee thinks they are Mt. Zion and Mt. of Olives, parenthesis my own)_mountains of bronze! The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled_all of them powerful. I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these, my lord?" The angels told him they were the four spirits (or angels, parenthesis my own), Dr. McGee compares them with the four horesmen of the apocalypse. This section references the Great Tribulation. Zechariah is now told to place a crown on the head of Joshua the high priest, an enactment which is symbolic of the Messiah, who will be both Priest and King over His people.You will notice that the bible continues to interpret itself.  Today's affirmation: I have walked through the fire, but I have not been burned. Thank you, Lord (Isa. 43:1-13) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Tuesday, March 2, 2011

 

One Sunday morning we meandered to our "seat" at church. My husband and I sit in the same one each week. I suppose you might label us territorial. After greeting a few congregants, we settled down, anticipating the start of the service. An usher headed in our direction. He wanted to chat with us, as is often the case. It's what ushers do at most churches. He complimented me on my smile. 'You have such a beautiful smile,' he said, looking slyly at my spouse. 'Is that what attracted you to her?' he boldly inquired. My husband said, 'She has the smile of a child.' I wasn't quite sure how to interpret it is as he is fifteen years older than I. Later at home, ensconced in our favorite seats drinking java, I asked him: 'Honey, what did you mean when you said I had a child-like smile? Do you consider me immature?' 'No, honey, I meant you have a genuine one. Some people smile at you, yet hate your guts.' Once the service began, there was no ritual nor liturgy. These things attracted me to this church. This is not the case with most. And it was the subject of a question posed to the priests in Jerusalem. This transpired two years following the eight visions Zechariah experienced in the submissions prior to this one. They wanted to know if they should engage in a ritual. Dr. McGee quickly answers the question  in his exposition. If the heart is right, the ritual is right; if the heart is wrong the ritual is wrong. So, I suppose we could conclude the same about my smile. When I smile, it comes from the heart. Let us begin at Zech. 7:1-3: In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev (December according to Dr. McGee, parenthesis my own). The people of Bethel (northern tribe, parenthesis my own) had sent Sharez and Regem-Melech, together with their men, to entreat the Lord by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, "Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?"  In the same chapter, verses 4-8: Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: "Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking were you not just feasting for yourselves? Are these not the words the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?'" As I read this, I am reminded of our festive days. Christmas has become so commercial that I hardly can tell it is a celebration of the birth of the Messiah, and the same with the observation of the death of our Lord at Easter. So, here God is asking them of their motives. And I ask the same question. My preference is the NIV version of the bible, but in these two chapters, I find the use of the King James to more accurately relate the essence of the message. It is this version that my mentor, the late Dr. McGee utilizes, and I am consistently reminded of how it is phrased in the King James version. For instance, the NIV (New International Version, parenthesis my own) says 'This is what the Lord Almighty says..' But, the King James uses the phrase, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts.' In the eighth chapter it becomes more prophetic, pointing toward the Millennium. (a future time when Christ will rule, parenthesis my own). It speaks of a time when men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets along side the youth. Of course, this time has not come. Retirement and restorative facilities can attest to this. The eighth verse of chapter eight says: This is what the Lord Almighty says: "I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God."  Now, some may say that this is presently taking place. Albeit the Millennial Temple will be in Jerusalem, it has not taken place yet. Jerusalem will someday be the capital of the world, so says Dr. McGee. As things presently exist, God is dealing with the church. Verses 9-13 tell how God will restore their prosperity. And this did happen for awhile. Yet, the rejection of the Messiah resulted in more unrest. But, later in verses 20-23 it again references the Millennial reign. Please read those few lines. The temple was finally completed in 516 B.C, seventy years after the destruction of the one built by Solomon. Today's affirmation: I will keep on keeping on, with God's help. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Friday, March 11, 2011

 

When I saw that my bible of choice presented eleven Psalms in this section, I was as confused as you. Then, I began to consider their nature. There are various types of them, including historical, hallel, messianic and orphanic. When most people think of these verses, they assign all 150 to David and consider them as satisfying one need.
That of comfort. But that is not so. Nor is it true that David wrote all of them. He wrote about seventy-three and some are orphanic, without an author. Moses wrote Psalm 90 and even Solomon penned a Psalm. Even now, some religious groups chant them routinely, especially on joyous occasions, such as the Hallel Psalms. We will consider some in this submission. I have often attended funerals and other events where poems are performed. They are often appropriate for the program  at hand. And, so it is with these Psalms that are sandwiched between the prophets. They express the emotions of the times. The first, Psa. 78 is a historical one and much of the material is familiar. You will notice that God wants the history of his nation to be taught to future generations. The information is so commonplace in the Bible that I will not go into great detail of its content. But, that does not mean it is not important or should not be repeated. It reveals the history of the nation from Egypt to David. The next, Psa. 107 is familiar. It begins, Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this_those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands. One of my favorite songs of praise at my place of worship has lyrics found in this Psalm. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. This particular one tells of Israel's restoration after punishment. I can relate to this little nation. I remember how I felt after my redemption from a sinful state. I can still recall it. And, perhaps, many of you, my friends, remain in a condition wherein you have fallen from grace. God redeemed Israel and He can do the same for you. There is a section of this Psalm which not only references Israel at the time in which it was written, but also the nation as it suffered in modern times. It reads, Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Could this also describe you, my friends? Psa. 116 is a Hallel Psalm. It begins, I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. This is how I feel about my deliverance from depression. Dr. McGee relates some of what is written to the Christ. One particular verse is obvious: I will lift up the cup of salvation. The next, Psalm 118 is a Hallel Psalm that starts familiarly: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. I thought about you, my friends, when I read further: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. Further, I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely but he has not given me over to death. Do you feel this way, my friends? The concluding verses are so soothing: O Lord save us: O Lord, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the restal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever. And the last brief Psalm, Psa. 125 speaks of trust that foreign dominance will end. Please read this powerful praise later. Today's affirmation: (from Pastor Mike's sermon) I will have the kind of character that permits me to make good choices when noone is around. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Sbmitted Friday, March 18, 2011

 

There are some things in life I enjoy. Poetry is one of them. I relish the works of Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou. Poets have captured the heartbeat of society. And they weren't always the happiest of persons. King David wasn't. Nor Emily. For she lived the existence of a recluse, with overtones of depression in my estimation. And Maya wrote of her pain in the autobiographical I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. The best art is usually produced by such as these. In fact, this ministry reflects my life of sin. And you, my friends, can rise from the ashes. As much as I enjoy the poetic form, I don't think I would like to sit and listen to an anthology performed at any chosen event. I would much rather hear selected poems chosen for the occasion. If this is true, and I think it is in most cases, then why is it so difficult to comprehend how stanzas expressing a particular emotion are presented at times other than what is commonly found in the verses of Psalms (Psalms is not usually considered  a book, but is often referenced as such, parenthesis my own). And we have discussed previously how some of them are futuristic. I surmise some of you are thinking why this happens. In other words, why not reveal them in a timely fashion rather than the double entendre presentations we have discussed. If that were the case, there would be no Revelation. Psa. 126 speaks of the joy of the nation's return to Jerusalem. It begins, When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. And, my friends, when you emerge from your state of depression, you will be as is described here. The next Psalm, 128, is described by Dr. McGee as the HOME SWEET HOME PSALM. Read it carefully to see what it takes to have a happy home. Dr. McGee said before the fall, paradise was man's home, but afterwards man's home was his paradise. Is that your problem, my friends? Are you trying to find happiness in the elegance of your surroundings? Don't you know that peace can be found under a tree? It reads, Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. That is it. It is so simple, yet difficult to follow. Please read the remainder of the Psalm. Psa. 129 is also brief. It basically says, Israel was burned but not consumed. A similar idea is expressed at Isa. 43:1-13: When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Some of you, my friends, are in the midst of the fire. But, with God's help you will not be consumed. Psa. 132 is a Messianic Psalm. Its authorship is debated. It calls for God's fulfillment of his royal promise. It begins, O Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured. He swore an oath to the Lord and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: "I will not enter my house or go to my bed_ I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob. Does this sound like Jesus? It continues: For the sake of David your servant, do not reject your anointed one. The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: "One of your own descendants I will place on your throne. Now, the next few verses have not been fulfilled. Please read them. Psa. 147 is a Hallelujah Psalm. And it is prophetic. This points to a time in the future. The last, Psa. 149 references Revelation: Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Today's affirmation: Am I reaping that which I have sown? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Friday, March 25, 2011

 

My grandtwins get their hair braided every Tuesday. Since my daughter and I lack the skills to do it, we get a pair of teens to accomplish the feat. And it is no easy task. Albeit they are improving, they cry the entire time. I don't look forward to it, believe me. Since neither has transportation, I pick them up and transport them to my house_the scene of the crime as it were. One of them got into the car recently wearing a hoodie with the inscription "cute but psycho." I laughed and told her that is what some think of me. Then, I added 'they thought the same of Jesus.' Whenever someone relates an unpopular truth, they are deemed crazy. Those involved in the accusation know that such is not the case, but they choose that label to hide the veracity of the comments. I have often spoken of the demonic dynamic. It is hard to ignore. Body art often tells a wicked story about a person. And they appear in the most unlikely places. I was attending a group meeting and was given a brochure, and right there, front and center, was someone decked in an acceptable tennis outfit, with a tattoo covering most of their arm. I was floored. But I shouldn't have been. We are nearing "that day" as Zechariah and many other prophets term it. Have you noticed recent events? Don't you consider them to be a little odd? And it is going to get worse. Have you noticed the catastrophic happenings around the world? This submission is being presented with birth pangs, I'm afraid. It just doesn't get easier I have decided. We are charging towards the New Testament and my husband warns that it won't be a walk in the park. I am able to decipher most of the writings of chapters 9-14. But, I continue to wrestle with the terms "the Lord's Day and the Day of the Lord." While I have a handle on the day of the Lord, I am not sure of the meaning of "the Lord's Day." I know that most churches consider it a twenty-four hour occurance that takes place on Sunday. But, I am not so sure. Well, with that disclaimer I will tackle the last half of the book of Zechariah, which will prove to be both Messianic and Apocalyptic. You can't have one without the other. The editor of my bible of choice says, it was written about 460 B.C. The first eight verses of chapter nine speak of the destruction of oppressors of the what is termed "my house." (Jerusalem, parenthesis my own). It references an area that is now modern day Turkey and begins with, what Zechariah terms, prophetic burdens. I will quote the concluding verse: But I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overturn my people, for now I am keeping watch. This is prophetic. Modern Israel does not fulfill this promise at this time. Yet, there will come a time in the future when it shall. Jesus' entry is captured in Zech. 9:9-13: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a  donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. The following excerpt of the same passage explains the source of everlasting peace: He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea. (Jesus is he who will accomplish this, parenthesis my own). Next, verses 14-17 speak of the appearance of the Lord. This alludes to the second coming of Christ. The phrase "that day" is smathered throughout these chapters. These verses conclude: They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women. This will happen when He comes. The church will have exited and the anti-Christ will have ushered in the Great Tribulation, followed by Christ's Millennial Reign. Chapter ten tells how those causing trouble will be ruined. It reads: The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. Continuing, "My anger burns against the shepherds (false prophets, parenthesis my own) and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle. The redemption of Israel is the theme of verses 4-12, with direct attention being given to the Lord's second coming. It says, From Judah will come the cornerstone from him the tent peg, from the battle bow, from him every ruler. Continuing, "I will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph (Ephraim, parenthesis my own). I will restore them because I have compassion on them. This passage supports the theory that God will return Israel to the land. And though this happened in 1948, this restoration will be different. They will then acknowledge Christ as their redeemer. As things exist now, this has not happened. Chapter eleven begins by speaking of the good and bad shepherds. Ensconced within it is, what Dr. McGee considers, a parable. I do not feel equipped to dissect it. But there is a section about which I am knowledgeable: I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.." (a direct reference to Judas when he betrayed Christ, parenthesis my own). Zechariah prophesies that Jerusalem will be saved: This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: "I am going to  make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem (the center of the anti-Christ, parenthesis my own). On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness. Continuing, "On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain in tack in her place. "The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first...." Pay special attention to what is said in verses ten through fourteen. ...They will look on me the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. Do you understand this? Israel will repent. Chapter thirteen again speaks of the second coming of Christ. Verses 1-6 conclude: "On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive. He will say, 'I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth. (I am assuming it speaks of false prophets, parenthesis my own). If someone asks him (Jesus, parenthesis my own) 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer: The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.' (Israel, parenthesis my own). Chapter fourteen tells us about the great battle. Jerusalem will be captured again. But no more. Mount Olive is mentioned and Dr. McGee thinks this is where Jesus will land after appearing during his second coming. I desire you to read the punishment the wicked will endure for yourselves later, but I will make mention of it here as well. Verses 12-15 begin: This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day men will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. Dr. McGee thinks that after all settles, we will return to offering sacrifices and will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (mentioned in verse 16). Today's affirmation: I will sing a new song. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


EDITORIAL: WHEN YOU STAND UP FOR GOD PREPARE TO STAND ALONE

 

There is a hymn that has the lyrics, STAND UP, STAND UP, FOR JESUS, YOU SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS. And that is what I am: a soldier. And I am fighting a battle that puts me in a position to be ridiculed and left out. It's as if I am in a foxhole by myself. When people see me coming they turn the other way. They have their groups and I am not included. But, that doesn't bother me because I keep my eyes on the prize. I fail to be concerned with hypocrites as well. They will smile in my face and when I glance behind me they are sneering.  They are plotting as to how to bring  me into their camp. But, they can forget that. I am marked for salvation and I will endure the criticism that results from my position. Satan is busy and he has many in his stronghold. Many who have traded their chance at life in eternity for a lie. They are concerned about the here and now. I am concerned about the here after. I have been bent but not broken. And I am unafraid as I know that the most important thing for me to do is to hold on throughout the storms of life. Being different is difficult. It is easier to join the crowd. Some say, 'go along to get along.' While that may be appropriate in a few instances, there is no short cut to salvation. I am not perfect and satan knows that. He knows the bible as well as I and his friends are in the pews at church; in teaching positions at school; in the pulpits; in the courts of law and every other imaginable place. Even though it is hard, I plan to stay the course. What is a little persistence now, compared to eternal damnation? God is a God of war and peace. Don't believe you will escape punishment. Read the bible. It says that you won't. This is a short life span and I am in it for the long haul. Sometimes satan will touch those you love if he can't reach you. Regardless, I am praying for my loved ones as I pray for you, my friends. This editorial and much of what I write may seem to have overtones of a depressed mind. But, that is not the case. My husband will tell you that I am a joyful person, not just in public but in the wee hours of the morning. I see the glass half full. And, as the protagonist in the fiction, POLLYANNA, I usually find something about which to be glad. Being human, I sometimes  miss the mark. However, walking around with your head full of fluff won't change reality. The Lord has revealed to me the undercurrent that exists in this world and I have the guts to write about it. Some, who are involved in it, fool themselves into thinking that they wish to enjoy pleasure while they yet live and go merrily about their way. Being a Christian puts you in the middle of realism. And it isn't always pretty. But it is beautiful as  there is a rainbow forming in your clouds during the storm. I hope I am not giving you the impression that I am regressing. As long as you keep your hand in the Master's hand you can accept what satan dishes out with a smile.


Submitted Thursday, March 31, 2011

 

Providence. Prudence. Prejudice. Fortitude. The book of Esther are these and much more. We will examine the first four chapters of this familiar story of how Hadassah (Esther's Jewish name, parenthesis my own) saved the Jews with her beauty and courage. In the last chapter of today's consideration, chapter four, Mordecai says to Esther (her Persian identity, parenthesis my own):"... And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" And who knows, my friends, you may have been afflicted with depression for a reason. In my case, God needed to get my attention. And He did. Perhaps that is the case with many of you. Sometimes untimely happenings can save your literal, as well as spiritual life. Let us consider a brief historical overview. After Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return home, many remained in their adopted lands. That is how Esther and her uncle, Mordecai came to be in Persia. Dr. McGee illuminates the fact that, at this time, the remaining remnants were out of the will of God, but continued to have God's providence, if not approval. He defines providence as a hand of God in the glove of circumstances. Doesn't this describe your situations to a tee, my friends?  In Jerusalem the temple had been completed and those returning there were busy getting their personal lives in order. After the death of Darius, Xerxes stepped up to the throne. He was not as accommodating as his father. He fought Greece and lost the battle. It was after that defeat that the story of Esther begins. His coffers were diminishing, but he was putting up a big front. Dr. McGee contends that Ahasuerus is another name by which Xerxes was known, but that it is more a title than a name. That accounts for the confusion regarding it. Xerxes ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush (Ethiopia, parenthesis my own). This is brought out in the beginning of the first chapter of Esther, ending with the twenty-second verse. What transpired next took place in Susa around 483 B.C. In the third year of his reign the king gave a banquet for his nobles and princes. The bible says, For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days in the enclosed garden of the king's palace... Spirits flowed and the king became high spirited. He had a beautiful queen named Vashti. Xerxes wanted to display her beauty, but Vashti would have no part of it. She refused to parade before the guests and she suffered for it. Surely, providence was in full force as an opportunity for another queen to replace her emerged. A decree was issued that wives were to obey and respect their husbands and no more was heard from Queen Vashti. Like the book of Ruth, Esther is filled with strong women behaving courageously. In fact, it is one of only two books of the bible named in honor of the feminine gender. As Vashti rides into the sunset, the first beauty contest was held. And what a contest it was. Esther was the adopted daughter of her uncle, Mordecai and he entered her into the competition, so to speak. The virgins had to undergo extensive preparation before their presentation to the king. Again, providence resulted in Esther's winning out over the other women of the land. Now, you will notice that the word God is not used in this book. Providence is the word Dr. McGee employs and he says expatriated Jews, at this time, were out of God's favor. This is such a familiar chapter that I will present it summarily, giving enough detail to entice those unfamiliar with the bible to read it later. Now, Haman, the villain, enters the scene. He was head hauncho, in a word. The king favored him so much that he required all to bow before him. Of course Mordecai refused. He may have been in a foreign land, but he respected the Mosaic law.  As with many in powerful positions, Haman wanted to be respected and, in this case, worshipped. Haman ordered the extermination of  all Jews. Esther was in the palace when she heard of it. We begin in chapter four, verses 1-17 when Esther responds to what is taking place. It reads, Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I Perish." That's the cliff hanger. We will find out what happens in the next submission. Today's affirmation: I will use my inner beauty for righteousness. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Friday, March 8, 2011

 

Sometimes when I choose not to do a thing, I will say 'I prefer not to.' My daughter terms this behavior "passive-aggressive." Depending upon the circles in which you travel this could be considered a negative reaction. In the vernacular, you are being a royal pain. Well, Queen Esther, in my estimation, engaged in such deportment. At last submission we found Esther preparing to secure the audience of the king_or perish. She had recently discovered that Haman determined to exterminate her people. Her mentor and uncle Mordecai had instructed her not to reveal her ethnicity when she was crowned. Chapter five, verses 1-14 find the queen preparing to enter the inner chambers of the palace. She dressed for the occasion. How do you look when you leave your abodes, my friends? Do you dress as if you have hope in life? No, clothes don't make the man, but the exterior reflects the inner state of mind. Though some take this to the extreme and put on a false vaneer of happiness, it is important to look your best. You feel better. The king extended the royal scepter to Esther. My friends, God will extend to you His scepter of forgiveness and you, like the queen, shall not perish. When the king saw Esther he was pleased with her. This is providence, my friends. Esther's outward appearance played only a small role as does yours. Esther did not directly reveal her request to the king. She did not fall upon her face and blurt out her concerns. She waited. And, you must wait as well. Your depression will not disappear overnight. It took years for it to develop and it will take time to dissipate. Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet. Haman was beside himself with pride. How about you, my friends, are you filled with pride? Are you too proud to admit your need for help. Zeresh, the wife of Haman, saw his dismay when he related how Mordecai stood at the gate of the king and refused to bow to him. His wife suggested that Haman build a seventy-five feet high gallow and do away with Mordecai. We must be careful when we set traps for others, my friends. Like Haman we may end up dangling from one that we had constructed for another. Providence would have it that the king was restless that night and called for the reading of the book of the chronicles of his reign. He discovered that Mordecai had saved his life but had not been rewarded. Enters Haman. Scripture reads: When Haman entered, the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?" Of course, Haman thought the reference was of himself and began to describe all the king should do for this man. The king agreed to do these things_for Mordecai. Haman was floored. He was not in the mood to attend the banquet the next day but did so. Chapter seven tells what transpired there. Esther made her move. She told of Haman's deeds. Haman ended up begging Esther to save his life. He was all over her. The king didn't like this behavior and ordered Haman hung on the gallows. His estate was given to Esther who later awarded its care to her uncle. That is the good news, but the bad   was the decree was still effective. Chapter eight, verses 1-17 tell us that the king gave his signet ring to Mordecai and directed him to do away with it. This action was sent to all under the king's rule_in their own languages. Esther hadn't finished. She wanted to celebrate the event. That is how the Feast of Purim emerged. Modern-day Jews continue to celebrate it along with the Passover. Today's affirmation: For what are you waiting? This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends?


EDITORIAL: THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS

 

Often times, people search for joy in all of the wrong places. In most cases, they look outside of themselves. To others. And not to God. They paint happy faces, but that is seldom true. Perhaps I will travel to a foreign land. Then I will show the world that I am blessed. That I can afford to do so and they cannot. Maybe I will marry well. Have gifted children. Buy a new home in the right neighborhood. Drive a prestigious car. You may be euphoric for a short time. But it won't last. Happiness does not come from these things. And that is what they are: things. You will not find it when you engage in false worship. The only way to discover it is through worshipping the true God. There is no short cut. There is no other way. You can find it, if you search in the right places. It can be found in the Holy Scriptures. God will direct your steps. He can turn your mourning into dancing, as are the lyrics of another favorite praise song we sing at my place of worship. Don't just put on a happy face; be happy. Don't worry. God will take care of  you. And be happy even when things don't seem to be going well for you. God knows what is best and you don't. When you pray, avoid praying for things that will make you joyful. Pray for God's will to be done. God's will can make you joyful. Read the beatitudes at Matthew, Chapter five. Search for nuggets in the bible. It will tell you about true happiness. Don't just put on a happy face, have a happy heart. That's where the seat of true joy can be found. May you have just enough clouds in your life to make a beautiful sunset.


Submitted Friday, April 15, 2011

 

As a twig of a teacher, I taught Journalism and Debate at a high school in southeastern United States. I was a student of the disciplines while yet  in college. My debate team was inexperienced and not very good, but we enjoyed trying. The newspaper I sponsored was better. I was a reporter at several regional publications and was knowledegeable as to how the print media operated in the real world. My partner and I taught the debate students principles Malachi used when penning the last book of the Old Testament. He employed affirmations, questions and answers. When this final book was written, F. LaGard Smith, the editor of my bible of choice said about twenty years had passed since Esther's courageous intercession. King Xerxes had come into hard times and was eventually murdered in his own bedroom. His younger son, Longimanus, assumed the Persian throne as Artaxerxes I. Following the euphoria of Esther's success, the nation was down in the dumps again. They determined that reconstructing the city was a little more difficult than expected. They anticipated a deliverer and he hadn't come. They wanted to know the whereabouts of the sprout of Jesse and when would his kingdom come. The more discouraged they became, the deeper they sank into spiritual immorality. In the midst of this decay, came Malachi who would close out the Hebrew Testament. Not much is known of his personal life. He did assure the people that the day of the Lord was coming. Mal. 1:2-5 launches us on this question and answer road with the Lord in the lead. It says, "I have loved you," says the Lord. "But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the Lord says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated,and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." The interrogatives continue in verses 6-14: "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master where is the respect due me?" says the Lord Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But  you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?' You place defiled food on my altar..." The late Dr. McGee, my mentor, says at this point that the "sins" of modern day ministers involved three things: laziness, being over ambitious and presenting dull and boring sermons. He further states that a pastor should involve himself primarily in studying God's Word and leave the administration to others. The second chapter begins with a warning: "And now this admonition is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the Lord Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me. Chapter two continues with a discussion of social sins. The delicate issue of divorce is mentioned. Mal. 2:13-16 read: Another thing you do: You flood the Lord's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant..." (they intermarried with pagan women, parenthesis my own). A detailed discussion of the grounds for divorce will not be addressed here, but suffice it to say that Moses reluctantly made such a provision. (See Deut. 24:1. Parenthesis my own).The next question is asked at Mal. 2:17-3:4: You have wearied the Lord with your words. "How have we wearied him? you ask. By saying. "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?" "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty. (pointing to the Messiah. Parenthesis my own.) But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire  or a launderer's soap..." In Mal. 3:5 the Lord continues: "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty. Tithing is the issue at Mal. 3:6-12. Please read it. I also encourage you to examine 2Cor. 9 for modern day application as many think tithing is an Old Testament thing. Ma. 3:13-4:3 discuss the Day of the Lord. It proclaims: "You have said harsh things against me," says the Lord. "Yet you ask, 'What have we said against you?' "You have said, "It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'" Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name."They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him...." Further, it mentions the "sun of righteousness." That points to the Messiah. In the New Testament He is called the bright morning star. The last two verses end with a curse. It reads: "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." Some expositors believe Elijah has made his appearance at the transfiguration. (when he was seen by Christ during a dream like state. Parenthesis my own) The Old Testament also ends with hope for the future.  Today's affirmation: I need harmony in my life: a balance between mind, body and spriit. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

EDITORIAL: MEDICATION AND MEDITATION

 

As I peek behind me, I realize that my depression was brought on by a combination of guilt, resentment and anxiety. During those dark days I can recall wishing I had a physical malady rather than a mental one. I now realize that the two are closely related. It is miraculous that my wish for bodily sickness did not become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Albeit serious conditions can be easily explained, an emotional one can accompany it or be the catalyst that caused it. My friends, I have alluded to these factors, but I am going to blatantly inform some, and remind others, that your depression can be cured if your spirit is healed. This is not to say that medication doesn't help. It is only part of the remedy. Many who suffer illnesses such as heart condition, arthritis and the like are victims of their emotions. Your "heart condition" can cure or kill you. You must learn to clear your mind of stuff. Relaxation does wonders. Some of us are sick due to stress. Confess your wongdoings. You will feel better. Guilt will kill you. Fill your mind with positive thoughts. There are some of you who are non-Christians. Positive thinking does not have to be Christ centered, but it is best when such conditions exist. The bible is filled with remedies for what bothers you. Many of you, my friends, find sleeping problematic. I am not speaking of those who are perfectly at peace with themselves but need less slumber and use the time for creative purposes. Clicking the off button on the television might help. Read devotional books. And I caution you as to which self help books you choose. Years ago, faith healing was not unusual. We need to return to bygone days. You can turn to God when all else fails. And, with many of you, "all else" has failed you. In brief, take your medication. God has provided you with physicians to help. But, don't forget the role of the GREAT PHYSICIAN.


Submitted Thursday, April 21, 2011

 

'It ain't over til it's over.' Such were the words uttered by baseball great, Yogi Berra, regarding the 1972 National League pennant race. And the same could be said about many situations. Many of you are wondering why I haven't begun editing the New Testament as a recent submission was from the book of Malachi. Well, it ain't over. Since this bible presents information in chronological order, it shouldn't surprise you that there was more action taking place in and around the time Malachi wrote. Quoting its editor: If in fact Malachi prophesied during the prior 40 to 60 years, he paved the way for a time of renewed interest in the law and in the work of two men whose joint leadership brings about a time of religioius reform. Continuing: With Artaxerxes' blessings, a great teacher of the law named Ezra, along with a company of over 1500 Jews, leave Babylon in 458 B. C. to be the second contingent of Jews to return to Palestine since the exile. Beginning with Ezra 7:1-7 (around 458 B.C.) we find Ezra preparing to return: After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra... the son of Aaron the chief priest_this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. My friends, when the hand of the Lord is upon you there is no need for fear. Verses 11-26 relates Artaxerxes' authorization. It says, This is a co py of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest and teacher, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the Lord for Israel: Excerpts from the letter tell us, Now I decree that  any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who wish to go to Jerusalem with you,may go. Further, Moreover, you are to take with you the silver and gold that the king and his advisers have freely given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, together with all the silver and gold you may obtain from the province of Babylon, as well as the freewill offerings of the people and priests for the temple of their God in Jerusalem. Later, Now I, King Artaxerxes, order all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you...Then, the letter states: Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment. And verses 27-28 express Ezra's gratitude: ...Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me. Ezra 8:24-30: There by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." We'll end  at verses 31-32: The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way...Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month... Today's affirmation: I will not fear as God is with me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Wednesday, April 27, 20ll

 

I have a little housekeeping to do before we venture into Nehemiah's account. From there, we are going into an historical interlude, between the Old and New Testaments. Presently, we continue in Ezra, chapters nine and ten. Upon arrival in Palestine, Ezra is distraught because the men, including the priests, have intermarried with pagan women. Ezra was appalled. Dr. McGee says that this nation is a pagan nation. Christians are in the minority, just as existed at this time. Things haven't changed very much, have they? A remnant will remain just as during the times in which the Old Testament was written. Let us begin at Ezra 9:1-4. It reads: After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, "The people of Israel, including the priests and Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices... And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness." It continues: When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. I, too, am appalled at what is taking place today. Verses 5-15 relate Ezra's prayer. Scripture reads: Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with  my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. (I have noticed that the prophets always include themselves as sinners and I follow their lead. I am a sinner also who has not received the punishment I deserved. Parenthesis my own). Continuing, "But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and little relief in our bondage..." Further it states: "What has happened to us is a result of our evil deed and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this. My friends, the church is experiencing a spiritual cancer and it flows at a low ebb. Later, the people confessed: Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it." In Ezra 10:5-8 it tells us that the people were put under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath. Consequences were determined for those who disobeyed. My friends, King Solomon married pagan women in his later years. And he was the wisest man who ever lived. So, that tells us we must guard our heart. Verses 18-44 list those who were guilty. Today's affirmation: I must guard my heart so that I don't fall into the pit. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Thursday, May 5, 2011

 

There have been good ministers throughout the ages. Billy Graham was a preacher's preacher. Yet, he was not the product of a seminary according to my mentor, the late Dr. McGee. God has used laymen to do his bidding many times. Nehemiah was not a priest like Ezra. Yet he accomplished a feat that noone else could do. Ofttimes, God has to use laymen because He can't get through to the clergy. Though not to compare myself with Nehemiah, I would like to think I am doing God's work. Nehemiah was probably much younger than Ezra and remained at the palace in Susa when Ezra escorted the second wave of Jews back to Palestine. Ezra was proceeding with the revitalization of the law in Israel and Nehemiah organized the people to rebuild the wall. He had a trusted position at the palace. As cupbearer he stood between the king and death. Many kings met their demise through poisoning and it was Nehemiah's job to serve the king after first tasting the drink. So, he had to have a lot of faith in order to do this since he could very well die while protecting Artaxerxes. Nehemiah was told about the condition of the wall in Palestine by someone who had recently returned. The efforts to rebuild the wall had been sabotaged by neighors who didn't want to see the project completed. Nehemiah was saddened by the news. The wall protected the city and also stood as a monument to their power as a nation. The king noticed that the countenance of Nehemiah had suddenly changed. I can relate to this. I, too, am saddened by the condition of this cursed world. The king questioned him about the mood change and Nehemiah confessed and explained why he wasn't himself. Let us have the Scriptures reveal what took place. Neh. 1:1-2 says, The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." The first thing Nehemiah did was to pray to God. He included himself when he beseeched God. The second chapter, verses 4-6 explained the king's reaction after being approached by the cupbearer seeking permission to return to his homeland. Scripture says, The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." Summarily, the king wanted to know when Nehemiah would return and gave his permission, along with letters to be presented to the governors whose territory they would traverse. Additionally, the king had also sent army officers and calvary with him. You may recall that Ezra was not given such protection. Upon arrival Nehemiah went out for a nighttime inspection of the wall. With the hand of God upon him, he organized the people so that the work was divided. I will not give details of the jobs given to whom, but I will mention the gates as they have significance in many ways. You may reference  the second and third chapters for details later. Of course the neighbors jeered but Nehemiah said to them, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it." The division of labor is as follows: Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. This has obvious significance with the life of Christ. I also feel that I am like sheep and many want to slaughter me. The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. When we think that Christ told his disciples I want you to be fishers of men, we can appreciate this gate. The Jeshanah or Old Gate was repaired by Joiad son of Paseah and Meshallam son of Besodeiah. The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. Again, I can relate to this one. I am walking in the valley. The Dung Gate was repaired  by Malkijah son of Recab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. Garbage was removed from this one. The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallum son of Col-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. Jesus is the Fountain of life. Interestingly, the Water Gate did not require repair. Above the Horse Gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. This tells me that I must judge myself first. Horses symbolize war and that is what I am encountering. The East Gate was mentioned and it was the first to be opened each morning. Then there was the Inspection Gate. We must all inspect our hearts. The account ends where it began, at the Sheep Gate. Today's affirmation: I will not cast my pearls before swine. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


EDITORIAL: MISTAKE #1-REMOVING PRAYER FROM SCHOOLS

 

As a youngster prayer in school was common. I can remember getting in a circle and being led by one of my classmates. I admit  they made it funny but it was prayer none-the-less. Noone concerned themselves with insulting the audience. I grew up in a segregated society and I can recall a Caucasian lady coming to my class to teach a bible lesson. We loved it. Then along comes the atheist who resisted. And we know whom they represented? And the walls came tumbling down. As the schools were stripped of its spirituality trouble entered. Respect for teachers was abandoned, along with honor for parents. Public buildings were next. All signs of God were removed. You know the story. We were once a nation under God. Nothing exists as a vacuum very long. When one thing is abandoned, something else takes its place. Satanic worship goes back to the Old Testament. And has always existed in our nation. But it was kept under wraps. However, with this new 'freedom' everybody does as they see fit. If it feels good, then do it. So, now we are in trouble. We are corrupt with false worship. It is hidden under a basket, but soon God will place it on a hill for all to see. There are die hearts who insist that we are one nation under God. I don't understand why they don't strip some of the words from the pledge of allegiance and other patriotic songs. Some even worship the symbols, such as the flag. Until we return God to the classrooms and courtrooms and public buildings, we will continue to have trouble. I believe in religious freedom, but when you are afraid to say "Merry Christmas' we are  in trouble. This is suppose to be a Christian nation. Children are disrespecting parents at an alarming rate. Crime is rampant and much of it perpetrated by youngsters. They see it on television and it becomes a part of their psyche.  But, then what do you expect when this nation disrespects God, the ultimate parent. I am not surprised by what is transpiring as prophecy is being fulfilled.


EDITORIAL: WHO REALLY IS THE BIGGEST LOSER?

 

I seldom watch television. I don't say that as condemnation, as there are some wholesome shows and children learn a lot from it. One popular show, THE BIGGEST LOSER, is viewed by many. I have never tuned in but I have seen advertisements. It appears that there's a bunch of obese contestants competing to be THE BIGGEST LOSER. I find that interesting as I have lost substantial weight. When I thought about this, I pondered about those engaged in false worship. Many of them consider themselves to be winners. And they compete to be THE BIGGEST WINNER. They come from all walks of life. What is the criteria for being a winner? Do you have to have money and the trappings of wealth? Well, yes, I am a  loser. Noone likes to be considered such. Many will do anything to avoid the nomenclature. Christians are often considered weak losers who look to some deity in the sky as the source of their joy. Well, what about those who serve satan. You are his slave. He pulls the strings. You are appointed positions on your job if you make the 'right' choices. You keep your job if you make the 'right' choices. And, sometimes you stay 'alive' by making the right choices. That is how many complete requirements at school and pass tests. Your life isn't your own. You work when you are told. And, you never stop unless you credit satan for the privilege. Well, I am proud to be A BIG LOSER.


Submitted Tuesday, June 7, 2011

 

A month has passed since I posted a biblical entry. Much water has passed under my bridge. Since I no longer am caretaker for my grandtwins I have filled the void with volunteer work. I minister to the expiring for a well known organization. Today was my first time visiting a patient. I was a little unsure of myself. I prayed for God to go before me. Things went well and I talked with the client for three hours. The words just flowed. My efforts were beneficial for both she and myself. On the way home I got a sudden urge to find a church. I hadn't attended in quite a while. I had a vision of the sanctuary. I didn't quite know where it was located but I knew I had previously attended for a funeral. I turned directly into the parking lot. I thought it was a school but drove around the front and determined that it was a house of worship. I will attend on Sunday. I had been praying for God to choose a church for me. I had lost my confidence following some sour experiences. After retiring tonight it seemed that the Lord was calling me to continue the website ministry. I had lost cofidence in my ability to write. It seems as if God wanted me back in church. My friends, God may want you to find a place of worship. It will bring peace into your life. You must wait for God to choose it and delay joining until you are sure it is the right one for you. I had to rebuild my confidence in worshipping and writing. Nehemiah went to Jeurusalem with a purpose. He was confident that God would help him rebuild the wall. In the previous message we found him organizing the people in order to complete the task. Surrounding nations taunted him. You may relate to this behavior. I certainly do. Jealousy causes people to persecute you. I am retired and many resent that. I earned the right to do so, but many of my enemies don't think I should remain unemployed. My friends, you may be the object of someone's jealousy. They are miserable and wish the same for you. Sanballat, a Samaritan, heard that the Jews were mending the wall. Lets have the bible explain it in Neh. 4:1-3: When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed....Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said "What they are building_if even a fox climbed up on it, he would  break down their wall of stones!" Nehemiah went to the Lord in prayer. And that is what we must do, my friends. In verses 4-5 it says: Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. I am despised because I march to a different drummer. You may be as well, my friends. The opposition became violent. As they progressed with building the wall neighboring nations plotted against them. And Nehemiah used fire to fight fire. The Jews prepared themselves for battle. In Nehemiah 4:10-12 it tells the people not to be afraid. This is sound advice for both you and myself. They had tools in one hand and swords in the other. They didn't sleep at night nor change clothing. In Neh. 5:14-16 the protagonist relates how he resisted taking advantage of the people as did his predecessors. He devoted himself to building the wall. Meanwhile, Sanballat and his crew continued to plot against the Jews. He sent messages to them that were veiled threats. I have received such intimidations. Nehemiah continued to pray. And that is what you must do, my friends. The wall was completed against all odds. Today's affirmations: I will endure. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I will ignore the taunts of evil doers. They will reap what they sow. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Friday, June 17, 2011

 

When is the end not the end? Well, for one thing when you are referencing my bible of choice it certainly seems that way. After all we have considered the last book of the Old Testament and we continue to go on and on. Well, blame it on history. We are quickly moving into a brief study of the historical interlude that existed before the New Testament. If you are going to do something it should be done the right way. There are many instances when the end is not the end in life. Sometimes divorce is not the end of a relationship that can lead into the couple marrying again. There are numerous examples. But, the most relevant is the end of life as we know it. I ministered to a woman who was entering the last stage of her life. I comforted her and told her that this is not all there is. I told her that she will experience a beginning rather than an end. But, many think death marks the end of things. When Jesus returns, and He said He would, we will then be at the end of things. I had never kept vigilance while someone transitioned from this system as we know it. It is a beautiful experience. I benefited as much she. While she lied pallid on her bed we communioned with each other in a unique way. Her seed will continue to grow through her children. This submission presents the geneaology of the Jews who had returned from Babylon. Like the woman I comforted on her death bed, the family history proved important. This is not the first time a census was taken of the Jewish people. In fact it was such that determined the birthplace of the Christ. Neh. 7:5-73 gives the names according to their tribe. I will refrain from listing them and will allow you to do so if you please. It does not mean that the information is trivial. Quite the opposite. If God wanted it to be done, then it is important. This was done after the wall had been rebuilt. Neh. 7:1,2 reads: After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed. I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do. So, here we find the Jews protecting their property. Things haven't changed much in that regard even today. This is a brief submission, and so should some be. Albeit it was important to guard the city, I would like to leave you with the significance of guarding your hearts and maintaining a willing spirit when serving the Lord. Today's affirmation: I will jump over the obstacles put in my path by the evil one just as an athlete negotiates hurdles. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Thursday, June 23, 2011

 

I've seen  you. You sit there with your head bobbin' while the minister preaches. Many fall asleep during sermons. Why? I find it difficult to understand how you can do that when you sit before the television or movie screens for hours. Not to mention sport events. Is it that you don't find the Word interesting or important? There are many who wish they had the freedom to openly worship. In fact they become martyrs. Myriads of you give the excuse that you don't understand the bible and it is outdated. You would comprehend it if you exerted sufficient effort and prayed for the Holy Spirit to give you insight. If members of the clergy speak too long you begin to squirm in your seats like that of a child. You must understand that the words written in the bible were left there for a purpose. It provides a map to follow leading you into everlasting life. Yet, while most own a bible, they are dusty relics on your table. As we continue in Nehemiah we find the people congregating to hear the Law of Moses being read to them_for hours. Additionally, they were privy to its interpretation. Let us start in Neh. 8:1-6: When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people asssembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. You must be aware that the people had lived in captivity for seventy years and had just returned home. They had no knowledge of the Law and were unaware of the miraculous acts performed by God. So, they were hearing it for the first time. They wanted to hear it. What about you, my friends? Do you thirst for living water that flows from the pulpit? Perhaps it is this water that you need in order to heal. It is interesting to discover that children were not present during the reading of the Law of Moses. It said those who could understand were listening. Neh 8:1-6 continues: Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform...Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them and as he opened it, the people all stood up. My friends, if you don't stand up for God, you will fall for anything. Verses seven and eight explain how the Levites interpreted the law to the people as Ezra read it. The Israelites mourned as they listened to the words of the Law. My friends, how do the words of the bible affect you? Is your mind wandering on what you will have for dinner? Nehemiah exhorted them not to grieve. Neh. 8:13-18 relate the details of the Feast of Tabernacle wherein the people were to live in booths made of tree branches in commemoration of the times when they lived in tents. Following the reading of the Law the people confessed. How about you, my friends, have you admitted that you have sinned? To do so will relieve you of the heaviness that presses down upon you. The confessional prayer is found in Neh. 9:5-12. During the intercession the people reflected upon the sins of their forefathers, starting in Egypt. I encourage you to peruse this section. We have studied it in detail earlier. This section ends with Neh. 10:28. The people make promises to God. We have previously covered them. For instance, they would not intermarry and they would tithe. Of course, they broke their confirmation. Do you? Today's affirmation: I will put my hand in the hand of the man who calmed the waters and can ease my troubled mind as well. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Saturday, July 2, 2011

 

Because. Because He is worthy to be praised. A quiet storm has blown through my life of late. I have been pushed to the limit with health issues. Yet, through it all I have remained anchored in the Lord. The experiences are not void of lessons. I have changed my attitude about a lot of things. I have discovered that I have loving friends who are there to support me when I am right and when I am wrong they have helped me to put it in perspective. My attitude needed to be adjusted. And it has been. I was wrong about a lot of things. The Jews have often been wrong. They repeated their sins and God was always there to forgive them. He is there for you, my friends. Albeit this is a subtle segue it is approriate for this submission. Today we continue in Nehemiah. At this point in history we find him continuing to govern Israel over the next eleven years. And, then in 432 B. C. he comes to the end of his journey and returns to Susa. Have you come to the end of an era in your life? If not, perhaps you should consider doing so. But, with Nehemiah he soon finds that the people of Israel returned to their bad habits. Nehemiah doesn't take this lying down. He is a man of action. Perhaps you, my friend, should adopt some of his habits. It is not enough to pray about an issue, you must do what God desires. You, too, must take action. Nehemiah was furious about what was taking place. So much so that he called down curses on the people. He is anxious to have his overdue dedication of the wall, but the celebration will have to wait until the people's sinful ways are corrected. I will let the scripture expound upon their wrong doing. Neh. 13:4-9 tell us: Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests. Some of you may have storehouses wherein you deposit your problems. You must do as did Nehemiah upon his return. Can you imagine that they would clean out the buildings where such sacred things were housed? Nehemiah tells us that the portions assiged to the Levites had not been given to them. (Neh. 13:10,11) They also violated the Sabbath and foreigners were trading their wares inside the city's gates. As if that were not enough, they were engaged in intermarriage with foreigners. Nehemiah said to the Lord: Remember me with favor, O my God. Will God remember you favorably? He will when you confess. And, we have seen this evident with God's people repeatedly. The people changed their behavior and plans for dedicating the wall were underway. They had a monumental celebration. The singers played an important role. They went atop the wall and the chorus sang and marched. In fact, there were two groups and they marched in opposite directions singing and praising the Lord. Neh. 12:43: And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. The Book of Moses was read aloud. Why don't you conduct your own celebration after you have made things right with God. Do it now!  Your tomorrow may very well be today. Today's affirmation: All night, all day, I know angels are watching over me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Friday, July 8, 2011

 

No man is an island. We are connected. And we all descend from someone else starting with Adam and Eve. Most people have an innate desire to know about their geneaology. It is the one thing adopted children desire most. Albeit they may love their parents of the heart, they want to know about their birth parents. They want to understand themselves better by discovering the DNA from which they flow. I feel a void in my life because I cannnot trace my family history to its core. Many spend hours and money trying to bridge that gap. They desire to understand why they look and behave as they do. This is true of the nation of Israel. Even more so with them. They are a dispersed nation and somewhere in their lineage is a branch leading to the Messiah. So, even though it may seem boring, information included in this section along with earlier books of the bible are critical and important, not only for Jews, but for all of us. This submission will cover 1 Chron. one through nine. This passage, according to the editor of my bible of choice, brings to an end any further account of either Ezra or Nehemiah. The recordings of Ezra, functioning as a scribe, have compiled chronicles of Israel's history. Genealogical records are particularly vital to the division and ownership of property, to marriages and inheritance, to right of office and to royal privilege. Several of the genealogical lists have also been seen in the earlier Genesis accounts, but additional names often appear in the present listings. Included are: genealogies from Adam to Noah to Abraham and Isaac; the descendants of Esau (Edomites); and the twelve tribes descending from Jacob (Israel), with the exception of Dan and Zebulun. Special emphasis is given to the royal tribe of Judah, the priestly line of Levi, and the Benjamite genealogy of King Saul. I will not feature this exhaustive list in this section. I invite you to examine it for further consideration. We are very close to the study of the New Testament, with only about two more entries. A brief study of the historical interlude that ends the Old Testament is imminent. Today's affirmation: I believe. I believe. I believe. My family history does not define me. I can embrace it with all of its impurities and rise above it, remembering that God is my Father. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Friday, July 15, 2011

 

I had a tete-a-tete with an acquaintance. She said 'I wish someone will write the bible in a time line in the order in which it happened.' I informed her that I used THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, EDITED BY F. LAGARD SMITH when posting my submissions and he put the bible in order so that it made sense. He  was inspired by his father whose desire was to write the bible in such a manner. As we close out the Old Testament, there is still  history that took place between the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is an interlude that will take us into the New Testament. I will reference the history provided by LaGard as I take you to the finality of the Old Testament. It may appear that some of the material is being regurgitated from text previously mentioned. However, this reference ties the historical interlude together so that the dots are connected. From the earliest days of the patriarchs, a divine master plan has been unfolding. The world was being prepared for a Savior. Some 650 years before it came into being, God promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation and have a land of their own_and that through them all the people of the earth would be blessed. God fulfilled his promises. First, he delivered His people from the Egyptians. Then, a covenant was established with a theocratic rulership. The law was given to Moses, sealing that relationship.The nation rebelled and spent 40 years wandering through the desert. In the 120-year-long monarchy of Saul, David and Solomon the third fulfillment was established. For 325 years the people became more and more rebellious. Messengers were sent warning them of impending punishment. They endured 70 years of captivity but after it ended they rebuilt the temple. The Old Testament record does not end on a happy note. And, the saddest of alll, when the Messiah finally does come, he will be so unlike the Jews' preconceived image of him that most of them will not will not even recognize him. How long will it be before the Messiah comes? Daniel gave a clue with his explanation of the seventy "sevens." Four hundred years would have to pass. Over the next four to six centuries, many other historical and religious documents pertaining to the Jews will be written. Most think that the historical records of the Jews ended during this time. There were other writings but they were not birthed from inspiration and are not considered to be Scripture. They were called apocryphal or "hidden" writings. I had never heard of them. I only knew that some religions included writings by people who were not born along by Holy Spirit. The Catholic English version retains the more scattered format even until now, but most Protestant versions will drop the Apocrypha altogether. The Jews do not accept them. It is perhaps significant that several of the writings reflect notions of mysticism and demonology apparently traceable to Persian influences during the Jewish dispersion. Despite their current lack of credibility among a large segment of believers, these disputed writings are generally moral in nature and do give insight into some ot the history, customs, and religious developments of the Jews during this intertestamental period. FIRST ESDRAS, the Greek name for Ezra, is a historical record from the end of the exile until the completion of the temple. SECOND ESDRAS is of Latin origin in the first three centuries A. D. and purports to record apocalyptic visions about the future of the world. In that regard it is similar to the apocalyptic visions of the leading prophets, particularly Daniel. It addresses such issues as how can God permit the suffering of his people? Why should God choose nations more wicked than Israel to punish them? How long will it be before the righteous finally get their reward? Why live righteously when the wicked seem to be more prosperous? How will the wicked be punished? THE BOOK OF TOBIT is a piece of religious fiction about a pious Jew named Tobit and his son Tobias. A central figure in the story introduces elements of Persian mysticism and demonism. THE BOOK OF JUDITH is another piece of religious fiction, about a beautiful woman named Judith who saves her city, and indeed the entire nation of Israel, by deceiving an Assyrian general and cutting off his head. THE ADDITIONS TO THE BOOK OF ESTHER are supplements to the canonical account of Esther. THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON is a poem similar in style to Ecclesiastes and is characteristic of the literature in the wisdom movement of Solomon. ECCLESTIATICUS  is the the longest book of the Apocrypha and is most similar in content and style to the book of Proverbs. Like the book of Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus finds wisdom in the fear of the Lord and also in self-control, particularly of the tongue. THE BOOK OF BARUCH, supposed to have been written by Jeremiah's scribe, purportedly accompanied a donation of money to support the worship in the temple in 582 B.C. However, the fact that the temple was in ruins at that time casts doubt upon the historical accuracy of the writing. It appears that the writing actually emerges near the end of the first century. THE STORY OF SUSANNA is a short story about a virtuous woman named Susanna who is falsely accussed of infidelity by two evil Jewish elders when she spurns their lustful advances. THE SONG OF THE THREE CHILDREN is a writing of the period 170-150 B.C. which is meant for integration with the book of Daniel. THE STORY OF BEL AND THE DRAGON is the third story attached to the book of Daniel and is an attack against idolatry. THE PRAYER OF MANASSES is a brief but excellent example of a pious penitent prayer, perhaps Pharisaic in origin. THE FIRST BOOK OF MACCABEES contains the history of the Jewish people in Judea in the period from 175-132. It details the history of the Jews in Judea in the period from 175-132 B.C. It details much of the history which will be considered later. The principal kings of the period_the Seleucids in Syria and the Ptolemies in Egypt_ are in a seesaw struggle with the Jews caught in the middle. THE SECOND  BOOK OF MACCABEES presumes to cover the period from 175-160 B.C. but is less historical than patriotic. Todays Affirmation: I will praise the Lord because I will feel better for having done so. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Sunday, July 24, 2011

 

My grandtwins love to watch animated cartoons. I am able to sneak in a few biblical ones, but they always return to a little cinnamon faced girl who loves to explore. After accomplishing a feat, she always says, 'We did it. We did it.' And she dances as she  shouts victory. Well, I feel just as she as I approach the New Testament. The Holy Spirit inspired me to do it. So, it's not 'I did it. I did it.' It's WE did it. The next entry will begin another phase of the Bible. Many consider it more important. I beg to differ. The entire bible weaves a tapestry. We end the Old Testament with a discussion of how the Jews were influenced by other cultures. The Jews have come a long way from Mount Sinai. If you think that the Jews in Babylonia returned to Palestine, you are not correct. Many settled in other areas and were considered a dispersed people. As they settle in other countries, they were influenced in a number of ways, including their religious beliefs and practices. The Hebrew language was rapidly replaced by Aramaic as well as others. Their interest in the Torah, as the Law of Moses has come to be known waned. Their dietary restrictions were replaced with local eating habits. As they intermarried with those involved in idolatry and various pagan practices, their religious beliefs changed. The Persian beliefs in astrology and the occult had an impact upon their worship. They lost their personal relationship with God. The Orthodox Jews try to remedy the situation. The temple was no longer the center of worship. The synagogue replaced the temple. Changes became apparent. The priests were replaced by rabbis. Special interest groups emerged. Hellenism had profound impact upon them. Resulting from this influence came the koine Greek language. Its universality in future years will be of inestimable  value in spreading to the known world the good news of the Messiah's coming. Alexandria becomes the source of several of the apocryphal writings. The Ptolemies and the Seleucids pop up. Epiphanes, a Seleucid ruler, was one of the cruelest men ever to hold public office. He even sacrificed a pig on the altar. That was the last straw. The Maccabeans stepped in. But they were no match for the Roman legions. Rome comes on the scene. The Jews  longed for a conquering king. Cleopatra posed the last threat to Roman dominance. Her marriage to Antony is legendary. Both were killed. Herod gains control of Judea. He assassinated all competitors_even his favorite wife. The Pharisees have become masters of the oral traditions handed down from the rabbis over the past four centuries. They believed in life after death. The Sadducees rejected oral tradition but did not believe in resurrection. There were other sects including rebellious Zealots, politically active Herodians and the Samaritans. Now, the stage has been set for the coming of the Messiah. Today's affirmation: I can see that You were involved in my life all along and that truly You have and are working all things from my past toward the good of my future. I realize that You were backstage in my life all along, wooing me forward to You. I refuse to hold or to blame others for my past. I choose instead to forgive myself and others even as I receive your forgiveness. (Tom Paterson). This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Saturday, July 30, 2011

 

Whenever I exercise I begin with a warmup using a medicine ball. I position myself in front of the cocktail table in my living room. There is a large picture of Jesus on the wall visible from my location on the ball. It seems to be one of Him on the cross. He has a sad look on His face. It appears as if He is looking directly into my eyes. I have another portrait in my bedroom. He also looks somber in that one. I have wondered to myself, 'why doesn't Jesus smile?' The stress of the last few months has shown me why he looks so gloomy. It seems as if Jesus knew in advance what I would experience. And not just me, but all of His followers. I have tolerated persecution beyond what most can bare. It has been miserable. But, after a while I began to feed my mind with His Word through reading the Bible and devotionals. I have addressed my issues of fear and the heartache resulting from it. I also had to learn to think positively. As we begin the New Testament it becomes apparent that with the coming of the Messiah onto the world's scene, we will be able to smile even when we are empty inside. The stage is now ready for the most important event in human history. Time is measured by events that took place before His birth and after His birth. He was not just another world leader or great man of God. He came down from His lofty position in heaven to become a servant of the earth. Who is this Christ, this Messiah? His name is Jesus. His symbolic name, Immanuel (meaning "God with us") signifies His deity. He is man and God. There are some religious sects that deny His deity. This was one of the biblical facts that puzzled me for years. This was due to my twenty year relationship with a cult. Most people prefer the New Testament. They find it happier, and they are right in a way. It is in the Greek Testament where the Good News is revealed. THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER will present the texts differently. We found this to be true during our study of the Old Testament. So, that should not be surprising. What is known about the historical Jesus comes primarily from the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John_four of Jesus' disciples. The Christian hope they teach is that just as Jesus is raised from the dead, so also the righteous in Christ will be raised to eternal life. Many consider the Gospel accounts to be repetitious. However, upon closer scrutiny you will be able to see that they wrote from different perspectives. Sometimes they reflected different audiences. The exact times and places of those events are not always recorded. Even the time Jesus spent ministering is not etched in stone. As we launch into a different sphere it should encourage you, my friends, that Jesus is your helper and He promises that the end of the story will be better than the beginning. He walked the earth just as you. He was scorned and considered an outcast. He was different. Sometimes God works through those who are unique in their personalities and character. People will often taunt you and try to make you feel badly. Remember that you know the "what" but God knows the "why." He sent His son to help you. Don't allow people to steal your joy. Behind closed doors they are not as tough as you think. Keep looking up. Stay close to the man who walked on water. You may suffer, but joy comes in the morning. Today's affirmation: And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight_ if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:15-23) This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


I have been waiting to exhale for a long time. I have been tied in knots with worry and fret. Joyce Meyer said 'worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due.' I have been surrounded by Job-like friends and family. An oasis in the desert have been the sermons expounded by ministers at the church I have been attending for a while. Today one of them told a story of a farmer who had what he deemed to be worthless land. He sold it to someone who found value in it. In fact, he unearthed diamonds. Many people consider my ministry to be worthless. But it may just be filled with diamonds. Can you relate to this, my friends? They ridicule me because of my history with depression. It is they who need more help than I. The Job-like friends have pierced my side. At the root of the problem is jealousy. But, my pastor said that God might be using my situation to bless others. It is easy to serve when things go well. But when all hell breaks loose many blame God. Are we not to accept the bad along with good? Job experienced this. A blessing has already come to fruition as my non-believing mother has agreed to join me in prayer each morning over the telephone. In the past, she has taunted me, but I continued to help her. I would take care of her business affairs and transport her to appointments. I had to clean the slate when it comes to relationships in my life. I decided I didn't have to allow them into my life. They were like round holes and I was the square peg. My pastor said God is still in control and sometimes we give satan too much credit. As I launch the New Testament, I can feel my body healing. How apropos. It was in the Greek Scriptures that Grace was extended and the Holy Spirit sent as a helper. The editor of the bible of my choice has arranged the Scriptures topically. First, we will begin with the Gospel writers. Mark's introduction was simple. I like simplicity. Mark said, The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ the Son of God. Powerful. As we move to John's prologue we find that he summarized his account. It reminds us of the first book of the Old Testament. It tells us that Jesus came into the world in human form. Isn't that comforting? He felt pain. He was tempted. He hungered and he was thirsty. John 1:1-18 begins thusly, In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him, was life, and that life was the light of men. My friends, you can bathe in that illumination. The Scripture continues to speak of John. Continuing, There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light; so that through him all men might believe. I have a teen friend who sent me a profound text uttered by Ralph Waldo Emerson. She said, 'For those who believe, there is no doubt. But for non-believers, there is no proof.' Many considered John insane because he did not fit into their mold. My friends, God chooses the humble of this world to make the elite look foolish. Continuing with the Scripture: John testifies concerning him. (Jesus, parenthesis my own) He cries out, saying, "This was he whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. Isn't this good news, friends? We will terminate this submission with Luke's introduction. Matthew's account has no formal introduction. Luke is writing to a man by the name of Theophilus in order to provide a more complete narrative of the life and work of this incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, and of the things accomplished by Jesus' followers. Luke 1:1-4 reads: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to  write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke is said to be a physician and it is likely that he would want to investigate carefully, parenthesis my own) Today's affirmation. I know God loves me and He can do the impossible. I know He can help me. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Monday, August 8, 2011

 

My brother and I share a blood line, yet we are totally opposite in many ways. He revels in the past. I, on the other hand, consider the past most useful as a learning experience. For the most part, I try to move forward. But, there is one aspect of our past that we should hold dear_our geneaology. It helps us to understand the present. I have pictures of my grandparents and great-great grandparents. My paternal grandmother died during childbirth and I often longed to see a picture of Eva. My brother made a profound comment during a recent visit that may not be directly related to geneaology, and, therefore, doesn't qualify as a good segue but I will quote him in spite of that.  He said, 'nowadays, when people are evil noone pays attention. They expect it. But, when someone tries to do what is good in the sight of the Lord, people take note.' Perhaps that is a better segue than I thought. When tracing the line of humanity back to Adam and Eve and their errant ways, we really can see the derrivation of evil deeds. This submission will be brief. We will consider the genealogies of Jesus. Of course, this isn't the first time this subject has popped up. Many of you may say 'we got enough of it in the Old Testament.' Matthew's account has no formal introduction, but rather begins with a genealogy tracing the descent of Jesus from his ancestor, Abraham, through the royal lineage of David the King. The geneaolgy is traced through Jesus' legal father, Joseph, as the husband of the virgin Mary, to whom Jesus was born. When this lineage is considered we find a few surprises. He was descended from a wicked king, King Manasseh. There were a few gentiles sprinkled in, including a Canaanite and a Moabite with a few infamous women as well. (Rahab was a prostitute, parenthesis my own). If your interest has been peeked please read Matthew 1:1-17. Thus, there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ. Luke's geneaology of Jesus traces the lineage directly through Jesus' mother, Mary. He goes beyond Abraham, all the way back through Noah, Enoch, Seth, and Adam to God himself. If your interest has been stroked please consider Luke 3:23-38. Why is the study of Jesus' geneaology so important? It establishes the connection between Jesus and his ancestor, King David. Today's affirmation: In her book UNFINISHED BUSINESS: PRESSURE POINTS IN THE LIVES OF WOMEN, Maggie Scarf has suggested the following as the reason there are more women with depression than men: Women are statistically more depressed because they have been taught to be more dependent and affection-seeking, and thus they rarely achieve an independent sense of self. A woman gives her highest priorities to pleasing others. Women receive ferocious training in a direction that leads away from thinking "What do I want?" and toward "What do they want?" They may be in danger of merely melting into the people around them and fail to realize they are an individual with rights and needs, and they need to establish independence. Ask yourself today, "What do I want?" This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friend? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Monday, August 29, 2011

 

Let me share with you some experiences I have had recently. While I always try to provide you with a good segue, it is not my intent to do so at this time. I was shopping at a major retail superstore and I was stopped by a woman who inquired about the dress I was wearing. When I go out I try to be well groomed from head to toe and was wearing a dress that the mysterious lady admired. I noticed she had a sign on her car with a ministry embellished on it. After admitting that I did not know from where the dress was purchased, she looked at me and said, 'you are an angel.' She then fought back tears. She and I hugged and I went my merry way. But I never forgot it. The second scenario took place at the home of my parents. I was waiting for my mother so that I could take her home with me for the weekend in order for her to attend my church. I carry a small bible in the car that was given me. It seems to be rather old. Inside was a cross, delicately crocheted with peach and cream colors. I opened to the account of Gideon. I read how Gideon doubted himself when God called upon him. He was so insecure. He even asked God for a sign so that he can be reassured that He had divine protection. He asked God to make the fleece wet while the surrounding ground remained dry. God did that. Then, he asked God to do the opposite. God obliged. God just kept on giving Gideon signs. He told him how to select the army who would fight the battle. He didn't want to use all of the men as He wanted the glory for himself. I was so involved in reading the account that I didn't notice the rainfall. The rain wet my car and the rest of the street remained dry. I think God is speaking to me. And, as is often the case, a transition develops even when I don't think I have provided a segue for the submission. God spoke to some people in this section of THE DAILY BIBLE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER entitled "The Births of Jesus and John the Baptist." Much of the material was written by Luke, who I discovered to be a friend of Paul. Of course, he was a doctor. In the introduction by the editor of my bible of choice, he jumpstarted the lesson by telling the reader that Jesus was born in Judea approximately 747 years after the the foundation of Rome. Herod the Great was considered "King of the Jews" under Emperor Caesar Augustus. Palestine was divided into the provinces of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee to the west of the Jordan River, and Perea and Decapolis to the east. The cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem are both in Judea. Much of which will be presented in this segment had been prophesied in the Old Testament. That is why I always say that the entire bible is a tapestry and the Old Testament supports what takes place in the New Testament. Two women are protagonists in this section. And the birth of a child is at issue here as it has been in previous passages. In one instance, the mother is far beyond child bearing years. That is not unique but what is special is the selection of a young virgin girl, named Mary, who will become the mother of Jesus Christ. Though not married nor had she engaged in sexual relationships, she will give birth through what some call an immaculate conception. It has never happened before nor will it ever happen again. In Lk. 1:5-17 we find the familiar account of John's birth being foretold. Zechariah was a priest married to Elizabeth who was barren and steeped in years. During those days priests rotated in their service at the temple. Zechariah's job was to burn incense. While in the temple an angel of the Lord appeared to him. He was afraid. The angel told him that Elizabeth would give birth to a special child. In verses 18-25 we find that Zechariah was made speechless because of his lack of faith and he remained in such condition until after the birth of John, who would later become known as John the Baptist. I am a member of a Baptist church so I am most aware of this prophet. Continuing in Lk. 1:26-38 Mary is informed of her conception. Many non-Christians may be unfamiliar with what happens to this humble peasant girl. Gabriel, the angel, went to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. The scripture says, The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you." Mary was troubled when told that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Imagine what this young unmarried girl thought. And, more importantly what would those in her hometown say? Then, there was Joseph to be convinced. "How will this be," Mary asked the angel  "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered, "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. After hearing the good news about Elizabeth, Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. I think about the trip that Mary made alone to visit her relative. The bible didn't mention a companion. I think about how dangerous travel could be during those days and how uncomfortable she must have been while navigating the hills. So, here we see that Mary stepped out on faith. She had more faith than fear. You will find these details at Lk. 1:39-45. Elizabeth gave birth to a son who was not named for a relative as was the custom. After the birth, recorded at Lk. 1:57-66, Zechariah's mouth was opened and he confirmed that the child's name would be John. Later, at Lk. 1:67-80 Scripture tells us that the child grew strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Now, my friends, what would contemporary society say of John? And, for that matter his own people probably thought him to be a little "touched." The second chapter of Luke speaks of the birth of Jesus Christ. Scripture says, In those days Caesar Augustus issue a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. Joseph was visited by an angel who explained Mary's situation to him and he accepted her. Scripture continues, While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Lk. 2:8-14 reveal how the angels proclaimed the birth of the Messiah. Shepherds visited the baby but the visit of the wise men came later. It is also noteworthy to realize that the birth probably took place in the spring rather than in the winter because shepherds were in the field. Back in Jerusalem we find the couple in the temple, as their time of purification had ended. Simeon, a seasoned Christian, recognized the child as being the one sent from God. God had promised him that he would not die until this had taken place. At Lk. 2:36-38 we are introduced to a prophetess named Anna. She was very old and had been widowed since her youth. She spent her time worshipping in the temple day and night. She, too, recog nized the child as the one sent. Today's submission: I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Monday, September 11, 2011

 

Sometimes when I post a prayer, I have to read the material and then take a nap so that the Holy Spirit can reveal to me what I am to write. Oftentimes, God has to scramble you as one would an egg, the source of life. From that chaos comes something delightful. He may wish to change the road on which you plan to travel. Or He may delay that dream coming to fruition. Today's submission tells of how God changed the plans of Mary and Joseph. We will consider the visit of the magi and the first family's flight into Egypt. Sometimes, my friends, you may have to flee to "Egypt." What do I mean? You may have to enter into your closet and have a little talk with Jesus. He will make it alright. That is the first step towards recovery. You must acquire a sweet spirit. Shake off the cares and persecutions of the world. Shake off the unfairness of the world. Say to yourself: I am victorious. I am a blessed child of the Most High. Noone and nothing can change that. Read your bible every day. If you don't have one, go out and purchase one. Pray to God to help you understand it and to assist you in finding the Scripture that is just right for you. Buy devotional books. Read them in the morning or at bedtime. Watch Christian channels. Don't watch the news prior to retiring at bed. And, my friend, you are going to have to learn how to handle yourself when evildoers seek to disturb your peace. Every question does not need to be answered. You may just look at them. You may change the subject, and sometimes you must walk away or hang up the phone. Those closest to you, who know you best, will most likely be the ones to torment you. Take control of your emotions. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you. Start counting your blessings. Name them one by one. Those who seem to have it all together are often more broken than you. Let God use your brokeness to do His will. Look beyond yourself. Help the less fortunate. Tithe ten per cent of your earnings to the church. If you are not attending church, find a charity and give to them. You must have faith. Build it up gradually. Turn to God rather than man. Let God change the course on which you are traveling. That is what He did for the first family. (this is the only first family I recognize. Parenthesis my own.) We will consider Matthew 1:1-18. We find Mary and Joseph at the temple forty days after Jesus' birth. The number forty is significant in many ways. Mary and Joseph were poor. Later in his ministry Jesus blessed the poor. Humble though they may be, news of Jesus' birth spread like wild fire. Wise men or magi, or pagan Zoroastrians from Persia came to visit. There is confusion about when this occurred. Some believe it happened at his birth. But many understand that the visit of the wise men came about six months after the birth of our Saviour when He and the First family were residing in a house in Bethlehem. They brought expensive gifts and were led by a star. King Herod heard of the visit and became jealous. My friends, your problems may stem from the hatred of your friends and family. They may simply be jealous of you. Have you ever considered that? A jealous person is a dangerous person. King Herod went to the extreme. He ordered the death of children around the age when Jesus was born. He meant it for Jesus' demise, but God would take care of the matter. He sent the First Family to Egypt and they remained there until the death of this wicked man. I am going to ask you to read Mt.2:1-18 as I have summarized it for you. Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to Nazareth where Jesus learned a trade under his earthly father, Joseph. We learn more of Jesus when He reached the age of twelve, which is significant in the Jewish culture. The familiar account of Jesus in the temple at this age is known by most Christians. Mary and Joseph and their family were already a day into their journey when they realized that Jesus was not among them. Jesus said in Lk.2:41-50: "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "didn't you know I had to be in  my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Today's affirmation: I think too much of myself to allow my husband or mate to treat me like dirt. I will not go along with his/her desire to have homosexual affairs. I will not allow him to engage in adulterous affairs. I will not permit him to molest my children. I will not endure beatings and verbal abuse. I don't need him/her that badly. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you recieve it, my friends? Amen. Amen.


Submitted Thursday, September 22, 2011

 

God loves the lower classed animals so much that He provided them with the ability to survive. Their outer coat is designed to blend in with their enviornment. Sometimes they match the green of the grass, and at others they are brown like the dirt. Human beings sometimes behave as these creatures. They will change when the enviornment dictates them to do so. And, a certain amount of that action is healthy. However, there are those who march to a different drummer. Sometimes true Christians clash with society because much of what they demonstrate is not authentic. They don't always blend in well with others. They will rock the boat if it affords them the opportunity to do the will of God. Such rebellious men as Martin Luther attests to the need to get off the band wagon and stop going along to get along. In today's submission we will discuss two men of God who did not tickle the ears of society and were considered weird. I was surfing the internet and saw a feature that discussed parenting skills of a famous Hollywood couple. They said that "weird is good." They wanted their children to be weird. John the Baptist certainly fits this description. We will consider his ministry and then touch upon the temptations endured by Christ. John was the cousin of Jesus and was a little older. His ministry prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah.  The Jews were expectant of a ruler, a king if you will. They were not ready for Jesus. Many are not quite prepared for me and my ministry. And this may apply to you, my friends. You just may be too different. John was not a writer, but an evangelist just as was the prophet Elijah. So far, I have communicated through the written medium. I am awaiting the nod from God to use the spoken. John lived in the desert existing on a diet of locusts and honey. He seemed to be some kind of ascetic wild man. He wore clothing made of camel's hair. His message was harsh and demanding. I can relate to this. He did not seek popular support. Beginning in Mt. 3:1-3; Mk. 1:2-4 and Lk. 3:1-6 we find John declaring his mission. He referenced the prophet Isaiah when he said "A  voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'" At Mt. 3:7-10 and Lk. 3:7-14 John preaches repentance: John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance..." Later in Mt. 3:11,12; Mk. 1:7,8 and Lk. 3:15-18 John announces Christ. In those scriptures the people were wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with Holy Spirit and with fire.." Later at Mt. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11 and Lk. 3:21-23 we find Jesus is being baptized. With humility John reluctantly baptized  Jesus. Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. Just as any one of us, Jesus was tempted. And He was tempted when He was most vulnerable. Jesus quoted Scripture as He rebuked satan. Friends, you must make an effort to memorize Scripture. It is no simple matter as I am embarked in such an endeavor. Let's discover what satan replied when tempting Jesus to throw himself from the highest point of the temple to the earth. Now, notice satan is quoting Scripture: For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." So, we see that the kingdoms of the world belong to satan. And many cannot resist their splendor. Continuing, Jesus said to him, "Away from me Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.!" We wrap up this submission with scriptures from John. At Jn. 1:19-28 we find John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord," I feel the same way. I am alone in the desert crying out against those who desire to make satan their god. I am also crying out to those who are depressed with no knowledge of the one who could augment their medical plan. Today's affirmation: I do not have a perfect life, but I have perfect peace. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends?


Submitted Tuesday, October 4, 2011

 

Today my mind drifted back to a story a former pastor shared while I was a member of his congregation. He said 'most people in this world are like a school of fish swimming downstream. But, there is this one little fish fighting against the currents while headed upstream. Things won't be easy for the little defiant fish, but if it doesn't stray off course it will win the battle.' (paraphrased, parenthesis my own) I found that story soothing. I am one of the little fish fighting against the currents of this evil society in which we live. I am scorned by many, including those in high places. Some are simply jealous. They wished they could plant their feet on a solid foundation. Some of my critics are of the clergy. I found them to be the most cruel. They criticize every thing that I do. They let me know that they have a mega following and I just may have to preach to myself. They boast of the Scriptures they have memorized. They scream out the fact that they have a worldwide ministry. I would like to remind the scholars of what Paul said in 1Cor. 2:1-5: When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest. I don't think anyone can challenge Paul's training. Perhaps you need to question your motivation. I simply want to reach the lost. I don't reveal my name and money is not my goal. I was shopping at a book store recently and saw a little book which displayed the following title: STAY CALM, AND KEEP ON GOING. This submission will reveal a man who did just that. We will cover Jesus' Early Works in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. The early ministry of Jesus is reported solely by the apostle John. Jesus appealed to the common people. He didn't have a massive following, but those who did, loved Him as I surmise mine demonstrate. God looks at the heart, not the following. And, you may just be surprised of the numbers who are inspired by my website ministry. Jesus, like me, was not a part of the establishment. And, for that I am thankful. As Jesus cranks up His ministry in Cana, Samaria and Galilee let us find some nuggets. Jn. 1:35-42 introduces Andrew and Simon Peter. As Jesus increased we find John willingly and humbly decreasing. I wonder how many of you would have made such a smooth transition. Andrew found Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah (that is, the Christ), And he brought him to Jesus. Later, Scripture tells how Jesus looked at Simon and chose him to be called Cephas (which, when translated, is Peter) Sometimes you can just look at a person and determine their personalities in spite of how they try to conceal them. Later, in Jn. 1:43-51 Jesus praised Nathanael when He said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false. How about you, my reader, is there something false about you? Are you puffed up because of the Scriptures you have learned? How well do you know them? Are you proud of the books you have written? Did you do it all alone? Nathanael insulted Jesus when he said, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there? Is this what you say of me or my friends? At Jn. 2:1-12 Jesus performs His first miracle. His mother, along with Jesus and His friends, attended a wedding. And, the wine diminished. Mary asked Jesus to perform a miracle. Jesus replied, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." Some of my many critics would like my time to come soon. May I remind you that there are those among you who are already a part of the living dead. You are not free. Jesus obliged Mary. Mary said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Things haven't changed much. After leaving Cana he went down to Capernaum. I am often berated because I am unable to travel. I am satisfied to do the work of the Lord. When  you visit other lands, you take yourself with you. And often you are not finding peace from your sojourn. My time is in the wings. I believe God is going to work through me in a mighty way. I have already taken steps in that direction. God wanted me to begin ministering to my family. I had to learn to accept them exactly as they are, the way God gave me the stamp of appoval. I am honest to a fault. And I think the reason I am so criticized is because you are hit when the rock is thrown. Jn. 2:13-25 relates the indignity Jesus expressed when money changers were found in the temple during the Jewish Passover. Jesus got worked up about it and said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market.!" I am sure that didn't go over well. Later, Jesus baffles the crowd when He told them that He could "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." Now, we understand that it referenced His body. While in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs and got on the band wagon. Jn.3:1-21 finds Jesus with a nocturnal guest in the form of Nicodemus. Dr. McGee said that Nicodemus was wearing several masks. Are you, my friends? He was ruler of the Pharisees but humbled himself to approach Jesus during darkness. He said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." Some think they have a monopoly on doing the will of God. I remind you of Rahab, the ancestress of Jesus who was a prostitute. Had you been there would you have accepted her? Nicodemus was perplexed about Jesus' answer regarding being born again. He didn't quite understand how a man of his age could be reborn. Jesus introduced him to the Spirit. My friends, have you been born again? Do you really believe in Jesus or are you playing games? The familiar Scripture of John 3:16 is one that most know: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Is that your belief or are you wearing masks to be removed and exchanged as desired. We will skip over to Jn. 4:1-3 where Jesus made a stop in Samaria and chose the most unlikely woman to whom He revealed His true identity. Albeit I am sometimes criticized for summarizing scripture, I would like you to understand that I want my friends to have something they can digest rather than little pieces of facts that delight theologians. The Samaritan woman came to the well. Jesus asked her for water. She didn't understand Jesus. And some may not understand you, my friends. But, it is important to know thyself. The woman questioned the Messiah about the living water He told her He could provide. She thought if she drank the water, she would not have to return to the well. She wasn't ready for Jesus. Don't worry people aren't quite ready for me, and perhaps you, my friends. Jesus told her of the many husbands she had married and her present mate was not her husband. It blew her mind. What did she do? She witnessed to others. Isn't that what God wants us to do? I will request closer scrutiny by asking you to read Jn. 4:27-54. Today's affirmation: Salvation is not for those who pretend that they desire it. This prayer we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Do you receive it, my friends?


REMEMBER JOB?

 

As I sit pondering my situation, I suddenly had a light flash in my mind. I thought about Job. And my mind also rested upon the fact that we may be living in the Great Tribulation, a  time of great presecution among God's  people. I exhaled a sigh of relief. It makes sense. Job was a man who walked upright before the Lord. He was blessed. Satan didn't like this so he went before God and declared that Job worshipped Him because of his many blessings bestowed upon him. Satan challenged God to remove the hedge around Job and he would curse him. God obliged satan. Scripture says that Job was afflicted with pestilences. He lost his children, home, cattle and all that he possessed. To add insult to injury he was "consoled" by faux friends. BINGO! That describes me. And probably many other genuine worshippers of God. When pushed to the limit, what would they do? Would they yield under the pressure? Job prevailed and so will I. I remember scripture saying Job itched so badly that he took shards of pottery with which to scratch. That is how I felt while in the mental hospital. Job sat at the city's gate in sackcloth, covered with dust. I don't exactly know why my mind flashed to this scene. Even Job's wife taunted him. And so did my husbands. He was alone just as I am. God chastised Job as He probably is doing with me. But, Job hung in there and so will I. Job was handsomely rewarded for his tenacity. And so will I. Now, I understand.


WON'T YOU SMILE FOR ME?

 

There is a famous gospel song with these lyrics: YOU LOOK SO MUCH BETTER WHEN YOU SMILE. I have often heard that we should let our smile be our umbrella on a rainy day. And I certainly have done that with my signature GRIN. I have always had beautiful teeth but my wicked dentist failed to inform me of cavities evidenced until it was too late, and a root canal was needed. And, sometimes this is true of life. We carry around these little cavities and do not attend to them until we need root canals. Mona Lisa is said to be beautiful and her smile was legendary. My friends, you must begin to count your blessings and write them in a journal. Preferably your GLAD BOOK. Sometimes we know not that we are being blessed.God has kept you safe in times of dire strait. I like the electronic message I received regarding this very issue. The last of the photos transmitted depicted Christ with outstretched hands, stopping the rocks of this life from harming you. A few got passed Him and you suffered. But, you were never aware of the ones He caught. Perhaps, if we could thank God for His hidden protection we wouldn't be so blue. You may have to spiritually stretch in order to appreciate this. Start using your imagination for more than to reflect upon things that landed you in the shape in which you currently find yourselves. Imagine how God kept you from  having an accident in the car; how God turned your illness into a small malaise rather a full blown life threatening condition; how God made sure your premie survived. You get the picture. Start thanking Him when there seems to be no cause to do so. That is when faith becomes a blossom rather than a bud. NOW, WON'T YOU SMILE FOR ME?


GOTTA DRINK?

 

As I prepare to launch this submission I am reminded of a movie I enjoyed, "The Days of Wine and Roses." It chronicles the life of an alcoholic. It tells of an ordinary housewife and her husband who became full fledged addicts after becoming slaves to chocholate candy. Addiction is addiction. Whether it is to cokes, fudge, coffee or any other innocuous stimulant. It was a sad yarn because a child was involved, as is so often the case. Alcohol is a drug addiction that can be tied into a little package with a bow. It is more socially acceptable. In fact, it is a part of the culture of some.  It is touted for its medicinal usage. And, many work for years, becoming weekend drunks_until they hit rock bottom. They have blackouts; their organs deteriorate. But, still they drink. Some will sell their precious bodies if you would just put a drink in their hands. And, this addiction very often is accompanied by misuse of other drugs. The medical community  accepts the fact that some fall prey to the gene within them, inherited by parents. I know that is true with my family. My grandfather was an alcoholic. And, my uncle died from the complications of alcoholism. Unlike other illicit drugs, this one is stocked in all of the grocery and convenience stores. Depression often accompanies dependency upon alcohol. So, now we can cut to the core. Depression is not just an illness. You cannot treat it as such. It's too simplistic. You must understand the total psyche of the person. To push pillls to this victim without knowledge of the catalyst is unfair. The entire person must be treated. Otherwise, the medical profession becomes a pill mill. Most people cannot get "straight" on their own power. You need a higher power. That is what Alchoholic Anon. teaches. As I have previously stated, a  little skepticism may save you some heartache. You must be careful of the person placed into your life to be a sponsor. Put out your radar. And, pray for God to send someone to you who has your best interest at heart. Let your tomorrow begin TODAY!

 

 

 

 

 

 


PROP ME UP ON THE LEANIN' SIDE

 

I enjoy some of my electronic messages. It's like being fed spiriutal food at the proper time. One such image came into my inbox depicting a picture of an old barn. Albeit you don't often see them around my neck of the woods, they can be seen in the states in which I traveled to and from the university I attended. An old barn has character, I think. But, it's not good for much if it leans. And, that is exactly what was happening to this one. So, the submission goes on to say, a farmer was inspired by it. He incorporated this ideation into a prayer, which he often recited. He said, 'Lord, prop me up on the leanin' side.' My friends, that is my prayer for you. I want you to make it your own. Beseech God to prop you up on the leanin' side. As I pray this for you while writing, I think of the veteran returning from the wars with little support from the government that prostituted their bodies. Some made the ultimate sacrifice. And, others yearned to return after escaping Hell's Kitchen. I think of the ladies of the eve. Each time they submit to a 'john's' kinky desires their lives are put on the line. Many have given up on life, but God has not given up on you. He didn't give up on me. I had sex for monetary reward. And, so do many others. They hide behind the fact that theirs is not a one-night affair. Remember when I told you that Jesus had an ancestor who shared your profession. Gang members join forces with like minded ones. They are in search of someone to  love and accept them. Most had a rough childhood. They do not fear violence because their emotions are numbed by physical and mental abuse tolerated until they could not and would not take it anymore. God knows all about you. He will be there to help you. He cares about you. When you have a friend in Jesus, you don't need anyone else. Let me tell you about the rest of the images sent my way. The last photo showed the old barn standing erect with a picture of Jesus Christ painted on it. Jesus will prop you up on the leanin' side, my faceless friends.

 

FAREWILL, MY FACELESS FRIENDS, BUT NOT GOODBYE

I HAVE HAD A 'DAMASCUS' MOMENT

 

My favorite apostle is Paul. I have often referenced him. He was a Jew who lived in Rome. Well educated, he sat at the feet of a famous teacher. He was known for his intense persecution of Christians. In fact, he was on his way to carry out another death sentence when he was stopped _dead in his tracks. A light blinded him. The source of that illumination was Jesus. Blinded by the light, he heard the voice of the Master when he asked Paul the reasons for his persecution of Christians. Paul wanted to know the identity of the voice. Jesus told him that he was Jesus, whom Paul persecuted. Paul never turned back after his vision was restored. Jesus knew that Paul would be an asset to the ministry. Imagine if he had that kind of enthusiasm for God? I, too, have had such a moment in time. First, the vision in my left eye has been restored to a large degree. And, my understanding of truth has followed that restoration. I have chronicled for you my road to Damascus. I was a member of Jehovah's Witnesses for twenty years. After requesting to be disfellowshipped, I spent the next ten years floundering from church to church, without finding satisfaction. In fact, there was a famous song performed by the Rolling Stones, to which I danced while a majorette in high school. Its title was, I CAN'T GET NO SATISFACTION. The lyrics go on to say,  BUT I TRIED, AND I TRIED AND I TRIED, BUT I CAN'T GET NO...NO. NO. N0. I have been thinking of the JW's as of late. It erupted from my dismay and shock at the behavior of 'Christiandom,' as the Witnesses reference worldly religion. You may have read my risque commentaries. But, it could not effectively be expressed otherwise. Finally, TODAY, November 12, 2011, I officially throw in the towel. What was my 'Damascus' moment? Well, I decided to attend funeral services for a charter member of the Sorority I joined. Fortunately, it took place at a funeral home and not a faux sanctuary. I got up early following a restful night. I completed several household chores and was set to go to the funeral. I did not acquiesce in wearing the traditional garb. I sported black leggings and a cute flowing top. I completed the look with large, over bearing African inspired earrings and shoes you tie with ribbon. Of course, I was smellling good with the WHITE DIAMOND perfume I purchased from one of my deep discount department stores. Even my hair was freshly washed. When I entered the chapel I was surprised to see so few in attendance. To my chagrin, there were more ministers than mourners. As soon as I burst through the door, one of them greeted me. I scowled. I knew then what to expect. I spent most of the remaining time patting my  foot and thinking unkind thoughts. The whole service was off the chain. It was though I was looking at them for the first time. All of my allegations were actualized. They are as I said they were. The lady next to me yawned throughout the service. And when the minister finally rested his case, so to speak, everyone uttered a big AMEN. After that, the choir rose to sing the traditional departing song, SOON AND VERY SOON. That is when I made a dash for the door. I left with no intention of ever returning to a church. I stopped to purchase some more leggings from a nice store I discovered that actually stocks my style of clothing. I bolted down the expressway and headed for the local kingdom hall. I was delighted to learn that they have three services. There is an early one at 11:30, followed by two afternoon sessions, one at 2:00 and the other at 4:00. I called by daughter and revealed my plans. She poo-pooed it, reminding me of the reasons I left. Specifically, she said they controled me and kept me away from my family. I want to be kept from my family, was my first thought. And, can you imagine someone CONTROLLING ME? I don't think so, folks. I am returning on my own terms. But, acually, the things they suggested you not do, are actually good for you. Even, a GOOD, BAD GIRL like me can listen to reason. So, my faceless friends, I will no longer provide food for the journey. It has been enlightening for me. I hope that is the case for you. It is my dream that you will be able to read that which is featured here in a book someday. I will continue to pray for vets and promise to bless them as I am blessed. Finally, I wish A  DAMASCUS MOMENT FOR EACH OF YOU. IT'S BEEN REAL...! LATER! (YOU MAY CONTINUE TO LOG ON TO THE WEBSITE. I NOW HAVE TIME TO READ OVER THAT WHICH HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY POSTED AND HOPE YOU WILL ALSO)