The Abraham factor… Thursday, Aug 21 2014 

Abraham is the father of three world religions. How much more can one life contribute to planet earth?

Abraham is considered the father of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. This encompasses much of the population of earth. Geographically it is quite a large area covered by these three religions. I would imagine most countries of the world are affected by at least one or more of these religions.

I had a discussion with a young pastor on the east coast and he contributed an interesting observation.

Pastor Bart Adkins of High Point, North Carolina is one of the brilliant young Apostolics of this generation. He is also a talented musician, singer and speaker. He made this observation:

“I had a conversation with dad one day musing on the thought that God has
attempted to make himself known to all the peoples of the Earth. It is
interesting to me in thinking about Judaism, Islam, and Christianity,
specifically, as though each one almost displays a particular aspect of God’s
character. The Jews had His law and Word, to a science. The Muslims have His War
and Judgement. The Christians have seen the revelation of His Grace and Mercy.”

Thank you Pastor Adkins for that keen insight.

Thanks for reading today….

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The Apostle Paul’s Epiphany Friday, Jan 3 2014 

An epiphany is a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into the meaning of something, usually initiated by a commonplace occurrence or experience.

It seems to me that the Apostle Paul always traveled with companions, with one exception. We find him with Barnabas on his first journey. Silas is his traveling companion on his second journey. Then there is Luke, Timothy, Titus, Demas, and others at various times.

The only time I remember him tackling a city alone is when he scaled the heights of Athens. For whatever reason, he went there alone.

I present for your consideration this possibility: had Paul reached the place he felt he could handle it? Had his successes puffed him up to the point he felt, “I got this one boys”? Did he feel confident in his education and past success?

It seems to me this was out of his modus operandi. I cannot find any other place where he went one on one solo on a city. I wonder if he had gotten confident in himself?

One thing is sure, Athens handed Paul his “head in his hand” so to speak. He left Athens broken and defeated and discouraged.

Somewhere in the next 50 miles of road toward Corinth, his Athens experience changed him forever.

At his next location he is first of all surrounded with the greatest collection of names mentioned in his lifetime. Second he has his greatest revival in the history of the world. Is this a coincidence?

I offer for your consideration Paul had an epiphany at Athens!

He realized my success has not been in my ability, but in God. My education is laughable when placed next to God’s wisdom! My education may trump some earthly peers, but compared to God, I know nothing.

Paul the man, with only his ability, against Athens equals abject failure. Paul in humility with help from brethren, at Corinth equals world’s greatest revival!

It was after this epiphany at Athens that he wrote “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men”.

Paul learned the most important lesson of his ministry at Athens! He learned by myself I can do nothing. Through Christ I can do all things!

May God help all of us in 2014 to use his lesson so we avoid enduring the same fate when we believe “I got this one”.

Thanks for reading today!

Sarah, we will miss you! Friday, Dec 6 2013 

Today I read of Abraham burying his wife Sarah.

Abraham was 137 years old. He would live another 38 years without Sarah.

Many were the memories with Sarah. Packing to leave Mesopotamia. The years in Haran. Finally the last move to the land of Canaan.

The 25 years of waiting for the promise. The faux pas of Ishmael, and that debacle.

Sarah had been there for it all. Now she was gone. Abraham looked into her cold still face for the last time.

Standing beside Abraham was his 37 year old son of promise, Issac.

Ishmael, who was 51, was probably there also. Maybe there were others as well.

Many years of memories were being laid to rest in that lonely, barren cave of Machpelah.

Eliezer, Abraham’s servant of over 60 years was there. That faithful servant who had lived the victories, hardships, and tragedies along with the family. He would be the one who would make the journey to bring back Rebekah in three years, when Issac was 40 years old.

Rebekah would never know her husband’s mother. Her children would never know their grandmother. Death was denying them ever knowing that.

We will never know the thoughts and feelings that ambled through all their minds as they walked away from a huge chunk of their lifetime. Sarah was gone. Dead. She had been there for so many years, now she was gone.

Death is such a horrible foe. It is so final and powerful. It takes so much from us. It leaves us lonely, sad, and empty, and sometimes angry.

In my opinion natural, physical, death does not compare with the pain of spiritual death.

The agony of watching someone walk away from God after years of worship and shouting and church functions is pain beyond description!

I Will Not Ignore Uriah’s Religion Saturday, Feb 26 2011 

Abiathar was angry.  He was going to confront Uriah.  As the priest that David
trusted in he would not allow this Hittite to worship Baal in the camp.

He stormed up to the camp fire where the noted warriors were lounging.  The fire
flickered on the swarthy faces of these hodge podge freedom fighters.

When he walked up, silence invaded.  It always does when the preacher walks in.

With steel in his voice he challenged Uriah.  'Have you been worshipping your
God here in the camp of Israel?'

Funny how silence can suddenly freeze every sound. Uriah was slow to answer.  He
was not about to take anything from any man, but this was the priest.

How he answered could easily start major trouble with men who wore their swords
ready to hand.  He had seen bloodshed in a flash not long ago when Abner met
Joab.

His eyes were steady as he looked up at Abiathar.  Slowly he stood.  He looked
up to only one man.  The man he gave his allegiance to.  David.

He respected Abiathar, but he feared no man. While the elite fighters of David
waited to see how this would go down, he said, "actually no I have not".

He waited.  Abiathar was seething with a righteous vengeance. 

"What are the remains of the altar I found today?  The word is that you
worshipped your god of the Hittites there.  I demand an answer!" Abiathar half
shouted.

Other men gathered around.  The small fire was now surrounded by a legion of
David's fighting men.

Uriah said tersely, " You asked If I worshipped in the camp.  I did not.  I went
to a high place and there practiced my own beliefs."

Abiathar snarled "How dare you?"

Uriah stood his ground.  "I did not join David's religion.  I joined his cause
to fight for his Kingdom.  He has never spoken to me of my faith.  I have done
nothing wrong."

Abiathar's eyes were those of a zealot.  Smoldering, angry, barely contained,
eyes.

It was a standoff of proud men both who felt they were right.

It was Joab of all people who deescalated the moment.  

Slowly Joab rose to his feet.  All eyes shifted to the General.

Joab slowly and calmly said to the priest, "Uriah is not asking you to approve
of his worship Abiathar.  He is asking you to ignore his religion."

Everyone there could feel the release of tension.  It was a word fitly spoken. 

Abiathar stalked off into the night.  Uriah stretched his hands to the fire and
said nothing.

It is not the things that we are forced to approve that are our danger in 2011.  

It is the things we ignore.

Did Uriah's religion factor in to David's taking Bathsheba?

Why did Bathsheba have enormous influence on David until his death?

Did Joab resist placing Uriah in the forefront of battle? He was after all a
Baal worshipper?

I do not know these things, but I do know this......

The world is not asking me to approve of Gays.  The world is asking me to ignore
them. 

 Pulpit silence.  

The world is not asking me to approve of abortion.  The world is asking me to
ignore it.

Pulpit silence.

The world is not asking me to approve social drinking.  The world asks me to
ignore it.

Pulpit silence.

Maybe just maybe had Abitahar forced the issue, the entire course of Israel's
history might have been redirected.

I have decided I will not approve, nor will I ignore certain things.

I will speak, and maybe some Uriah's may yet live!

Thanks for reading today.

Acts of the Apostles Thursday, Feb 24 2011 

Acts

Oft times I have wondered about certain books of the Bible.  I have thought, what if we did not have this book in our Bible?  How would that affect the whole?  When I place the book of Acts on that pedestal, and consider, I am certain of the answer.

Only Acts and Genesis seem to hold the place of absolute.  Without them we simply could not survive.  They are both irreplaceable.

The book of Acts was written by Luke.  Luke is the only Gentile writer in the Bible.  It is interesting to me that Luke is responsible for 25% of the New Testament.  His two books equal one fourth of the volume of the New Testament.

I am not positive, but it appears to me that Luke wrote at the bequest of a wealthy patron named Theopholis.  His two books address this individual.  This was a common practice that carried well into the middle ages.  A wealthy patron would sponsor someone to write a book or thesis. This is how men like Voltaire and Rousseau were supported financially.

To me, Acts is about three men.  Those men are Simon (Peter), Saul (Paul), and Stephen. The book is evenly devoted to the ministry of Peter and Paul with Stephen being the bridge from one to the other.

The contrast of these two men is stark.  Peter is a country fisherman.  Paul is a polished cosmopolitan.  Peter was ignorant and unlearned.  Paul was a trained rabbi, having studied at the feet of Gamaliel. Peter spoke Aramaic, the common language.  Paul could speak that language, as well as Greek.  Peter was a country Jew, Paul was a Hellenistic Jew and a Roman Citizen.

The first twelve chapters of Acts are about Peter.  In chapter 13 the spotlight shifts to Paul and never moves back to Peter again.  Peter, the great apostle fades from view in Acts.

How important is Acts as a book?  It is irreplaceable! Without the book of Acts we would go from the Gospels to Romans.  We would wonder who is Paul?  What is the church?  How did it start?  Acts is the link to all of the New Testament.

Acts begins with the ascension of Jesus.  It moves on to choosing Judas’ replacement. It then tells of Pentecost, the beginning of the church, and eventually documents the church’s emigration to the Roman Empire.

Christianity conquered the Roman Empire, period.  The Roman Empire paved roads, established peace and continuity, and through this open door walked the church.  The church flourished during the Pax Romana, the empire wide peace. Within 300 years 10% of the Roman Empire was Christian.

The book of Acts documents the beginning of this conquest of the church.

When the spotlight shifts to Paul in chapter 13, Luke begins to relate Paul’ missionary journeys.  Paul made three journeys.  ( Some scholars say up to five).  The dates of these journeys are:

  • 46-48, first journey
  • 49-52, second journey
  • 53-57, third journey

It is simply amazing that in 47AD there were no churches in Asia Minor.  In ten years there was a ring of churches that included every major city in Galatia, Macedonia, Asia and Acacia.  This remarkable achievement has never been repeated anywhere globally.

On his first journey, when he gains his first convert, the Apostle Paul jettisons his Hebrew name Saul, and forever becomes know as Paul.  He was the Apostle to the Gentiles and he bore his Gentile name to his death.

Luke is a gentile, writing a book about the gentile revival by the Apostle to the gentiles.  This fact shows up in the book repeatedly.  It is very clear in the story of the appointment of the deacons.  When the division came and the controversy showed itself, out of the seven men chosen, 5 were Greeks according to their names.  Luke makes this point, or rather the Holy Ghost does.

The final chapters of the book of Acts are concerning Paul’s last days.  I am left with one of the biggest questions of my life as to why the book ends so inconclusively.  With the Holy Ghost inspiring the man called Luke, why no closure?

My only hypothesis is that the book is still being written in heaven.  Maybe the final words were something like “to be continued”.

What chapter will you write to add to the book of Acts?

The consequence of anger 500 years later Tuesday, Feb 22 2011 

I read Martyn Ballestero’s blogs as do hundreds of people every day. While reading the recent posts on anger I thought of a Bible incident that sheds light on anger.

It involved the tribe of Simeon. Simeon and Levi had committed and act that angered and disappointed their aged father.

In their mind they were defending their sister Dinah, but their method was cruel and hateful. It appears that their father thought they were angry when they acted.

In Genesis 49, Jacob, now Israel, passes the patriarchal blessing on to his twelve sons. When he gets to Simeon in verse 6, he says, “cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”

This was their judgment for their actions in killing the men of the Hivites.

This prophecy comes true over 500 years later when the tribes receive their inheritance. When Simeon is allocated his land it is a portion that is surrounded by Judah. It is the only tribe so done this way. It fulfilled the prophecy Simeon was to be divided in Jacob.

In Joshua chapter 19, the lot for Judah is too large, so it is subdivided so the smaller tribe of Simeon is given a portion of Judah.

The consequences of anger still lingered 500 years later. God surrounded it with praise to keep it from further damage and devastation to the other people of God.

Anger is destructive and it’s consequences last for a very long time.

Thanks for reading today!

John Sunday, Feb 20 2011 

John

John was Jesus’ first cousin and His best friend for 3 ½ years. Jesus’ mother and John’s mother were sisters. No man on earth knew the story of Jesus better than John. His gospel is a magnificent treatise to the life of Christ and it’s impact on planet earth.

His gospel is different than the others. Very different! It is written like John is sitting under a shade tree with his feet propped up, just daydreaming about the life of Jesus. He only selects vignettes, short insights or events, from 20 days in the life of Christ.

John uses the simplest words, and a small vocabulary to plunge us into the deepest mysteries of God. John uses the vocabulary of a six year old child. A child learns about 100 words a year and John uses about 600 words in his writing.

The words John selects are powerful words. He uses words like world, father, light, and truth. He uses the simplest words to paint a profound God and His plan.

Matthew writes to the Jew, so he begins his gospel at the lineage of Abraham. Luke writes to the gentile Roman world, so his lineage begins at Adam. John writes to the church, so he reaches all the way back to eternity. He begins with, “In the beginning”.

.John reaches back to the inky blackness of eternity, before there was the brush of an angel’s wing. He reaches back before there was the first blazing shaft of light that shattered the darkness. When there was nothing but God. In the beginning was the logos, the word, the thought, the intent. And the logos was God.

John does not cover the same material as the other three gospels do. The only miracle he repeats is the feeding of the 5000. He writes to the church about 60 years after the other writers. The church was facing many challenges.

When John wrote, there were those who said Jesus never really existed. There were others saying Jesus was not a human, but rather a phantom. Other views at that time proclaimed Jesus did exist but he was just a man with divinity projected upon him by his disciples. It was into this morass that John wrote his gospel.

John writes of no parables, and uses 7 signs to build his story of Jesus. He explains things like no other writer. When he tells a miracle, he often explains why he used that miracle. An example would be the feeding of the 5000. He tells us Jesus is the bread of life. The other three writers did not explain the connection for us. When Jesus heals the blind man, John explains Jesus is the light of the world. It is his explanations that give his gospel an added dimension.

He also includes things of immense importance. Consider how important John chapter three is to the doctrine of the new birth. The story of Nicodemas is the bedrock of salvation. Ye must be born again. That one inclusion validates the day of Pentecost and the doctrine of the New Testament church. Chapter by chapter, John gives the church a gospel for the ages. He delivers the most profound insight into Jesus the man, of any writer of history.

2/3 of John’s book is about the last week of Jesus’ life. Fully 1/3 of his book is about the last 24 hours of Jesus’ earthly life. After 60 years, the need was for a complete record of the importance of calvary. A whole generation had arrived that were not eye witnesses to the events of Jesus’ death. Someone needed to write it down and John succeeded as Heaven’s emissary.

We have the gospel of John and it is indeed magnificent!

Luke Saturday, Feb 19 2011 

Luke

The third Gospel is the only one written by a gentile. Luke also wrote the book of Acts. His two works comprise 25% of the New Testament.

Luke was a doctor. The flavor of the man always comes out in his writings.

In Luke we see more conversation about women, gentiles, and the social outcasts.

When a beggar lays at the gate of the rich man, Luke says he was full of sores. Matthew would have said he was broke. Matthew’s perspective as a tax collector was his financial status, while Luke had the perspective of a doctor.

Luke’s gospel is written to the Greek, or Gentile world.

He uses Mark as his time line and repeats somewhere around 50% (320 of 661 verses), of the same material Mark provides.

Because he is writing to the Gentile world he begins his genealogy at Adam.

Matthew goes back to Abraham, Mark bypasses the genealogy, and Luke goes back to the first man Adam. John, who writes to the church, reaches back to the misty darkness of eternity.

It appears to me that Luke took the time to interview the people of the early church. He states that his book is from the beginning and that he had perfect understanding of it all.

When you read of Jesus’ birth in Luke’s account, you find some tidbits of information no one else includes. One example would be the details of Mary’s song and inner thoughts and feelings.

That causes me to think Luke must have sat down with Mary and spent time talking to her. I can envision him sitting quietly many years later, at the end of her life, recording her words as she softly speaks of those bygone years. As she wistfully remembers, he dutifully records.

Not only does he provide information about people’s feelings and inner thoughts, he also documents his writings with names, offices and titles of over 50 people. This gives his work a credibility the other gospel writers do not have to the world of scholars.

One example of his documentation is the introduction of John the Baptist in chapter 3. Luke places 7 men in the scripture for historical evidence. He mentions an emperor, a governor, three tetrarchs, and two high priests. These are the kind of things that give Luke credibility with the world of scholars. This also gives further credibility by association to the other Gospels who give the same information. For this alone Luke is invaluable.

Another contribution of his is the writing of parables spoken by Jesus. He records 18 parables not recorded anywhere else. We are indebted to him for the famous parable of the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, and many others.

I am going to go out on a limb here and state my opinion for what it is worth. I know that Luke traveled with Paul. I am somewhat sure he joined Paul on one of his missionary journeys, because the text of Acts changes from they, to the first person of I and we. So my thought is that somewhere Luke sat and listened to Paul tell his insight into the life of Jesus. My best guess would be this occurred while Paul was being held at Caesarea.

Just like when he started his book by making the journey to see Mary, I can see Luke taking notes at the feet of Paul and then the Holy spirit washing them though the man Luke with his training, his education, and his perspective. From out of that flowed the gospel of Luke.

The gospel written to the Greeks adopts the Greek idea of the perfect man. The Greeks created their Gods by deifying man into a God.

Luke very ably and perfectly adopts their premise and presents them with the perfect man, who was indeed God, Jesus Christ the savior of the world.

 

Thanks for reading today!

 

Mark Thursday, Feb 17 2011 

My last blog was about Matthew, today is Mark.

I will post Luke and John next.

The Gospels.

Four books that the Holy Ghost approved out of the 200 gospels written about Jesus.

Mark

Mark’s gospel was the first gospel written in 50 AD. It was written to the Roman world. It came at a very critical time! The Caesars were killing the Christians in Rome and there was fear and consternation across the empire. Nero was on a rampage! The need was for direction. And the need was now!

So we have the Gospel of Mark. It is the shortest Gospel because time was of the essence. It is the fastest paced Gospel. It uses hurry up adverbs 42 times. Words like immediately, and straightway are the norm.

I am convinced Mark’s Gospel was dictated by Simon Peter. This was a commonly held belief well into the second century. Papias says this in AD 60-150. Papias call Mark Peter’s interpreter. Probably Peter spoke in Aramic and Mark translated into Greek. Finally, Peter calls Mark his “son”, 1 Peter 5.13.

Mark is the timeline that Matthew and Luke work off of. 90% of his gospel is found in Matthew and Luke. He is fast. He has three miracles in the first chapter. The other writers wait until chapter three before introducing a miracle.

Because it is to the Roman world, Mark quotes the Old Testament only one time. He ignores the Mosaic law, then explains the Jewish laws and the passover. Once again, time was pressing them to get this message into the hands of suffering Christians.

It is the shortest gospel, and is proclaimed by an eyewitness, so hence the nod goes to Peter. Matthew repeats over 90% of Mark in his gospel and Luke repeats over 53%,(330 out of 660 verses).

It is interesting to me that Mark does not mention anything about Jesus before Jesus’ baptism. No birth, no early years, or any other information.

Also, Mark deals with Jesus’ humanity. Mark shows Jesus tired, weary and hungry. The Roman world and the new Christians needed to be reminded He was the Messiah. The Avatar, the highest form of God in humanity.

In all probability, the Christians of that day expected the return of Christ any day. They no doubt saw no need for a record of his life, for they would all remember. However when He did not return quickly, it became obvious a whole new generation needed the facts to be recorded.

It is certainly reasonable to assume that Mark knew all the early church leaders and populace. He was a relative of Barnabas and traveled with Barnabas and Paul on their one and only missionary journey together.

Mark is also believed to be one of the few men who accompanied Simon Peter to Cornelius house in Acts chapter ten.

So it was the first Gospel written of the four in your Bible.

It is authored by Mark and dictated by Simon Peter and inspired by God himself!

Thanks for reading today!

Matthew Wednesday, Feb 16 2011 

Matthew

The Bible is the best selling book of all time. Therefore it is reasonable that the Bible is the most read book of all time. Statistics say that Matthew is the most read book of the Bible for almost everyone starts there!

Now if you or I were going to write a book that we knew more people were going to read more than any other book in the history of the world, would we start it out with a long list of names that no one can even pronounce? Yet God in His wisdom does just that! Why?

Well, one supposition is that He loved the Jewish nation and preferred them with the first Gospel in honor to His commitment to them through the centuries. One thing is for sure; Jesus was not the Messiah they were looking for! He did not fit the image of their expectations!

The Jewish nation were looking for someone to come in and overthrow the Roman grip on their land. Jesus came to overthrow the grip Satan had on their land. So we have the Gospel of Matthew…

• Matthew was a tax collector, therefore he speaks of money more than any other writer, (example, Peter go catch fish and there will be a coin in it’s mouth)

• He starts his genealogy with Abraham instead of Adam because his book is to the Jew

• He has 31 passages unique to him, 10 parables, 2 miracles, 9 discourses, 6 events

• He is the only gospel writer to mention the church

• Uses the term Kingdom of heaven because the Jews did not use the name “God”

• Writes like a tax collector, Example 8 beatitudes at start of book and 8 woes at

end, like bookends

• His style is narrative, discourse. Jesus’ story then, speech or sermon. 5 times says “when Jesus had ended these sayings”

• Quotes the Old testament more times than any other New Testament writer (129 times)

• 16 times says “that it might be fulfilled”

• 2 great sermons, sermon on the mount, and Olivet discourse (one at beginning of book, one toward end of book)

There had been 400 years of silence! Then Matthew’s gospel pulls it all together.

It is the bridge.

Matthew portrays Jesus as the King of the Jews. His gospel is considered as the most important book in Christendom by the French skeptic Renan!

One of the great contributions of Matthew to oneness people is his information on the transfiguration. In chapter 16 Matthew begins the story of Jesus leaving the area of Galilee and going north to the regions of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus literally turns His back on the country of Israel and goes to a gentile region and spends about 8 days with His disciples.

After 6 days of rest and relaxation, He poses the question to them, who do men say that I am? It is a supreme moment in Jesus’ earthly journey. For 3 1⁄2 years He has prepared this select group of men for this revelation. They offer the current scuttlebutt of names, and then Simon Peter makes the famous reply, “Thou art the Christ”.

Jesus no doubt breathed a sigh of relief knowing they had truly got the concept of His being the messiah. Two days later is a remarkable event. I call this “When a good Jewish son took over the family business”.

The event is called the mount of transfiguration. Jesus waits another 2 days and then takes Peter, James, and John with Him up on the mountain. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all inform us what happened there.

Jesus is transfigured before them and Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus. The disciples are speechless, and stunned. Peter finally blurts out an inane babbling, something about three temples.

These three disciples are witness to the transfer of all spiritual spokesman ship from the Father to the Son! A voice booms from the heavens and says, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him”.

This same voice had spoken at the baptism of Jesus, but had not said, “Hear ye him”. At that moment, the eternal spirit of God proclaimed His residence forever to be in the man Christ Jesus. Christ’s earthly ministry was complete. The only thing left was to be the perfect sacrifice.

Never since that moment has the voice of God ever spoken outside of Jesus Christ! The voice that spoke worlds into existence, the voice that spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai, now speaks only through the mouth of Jesus Christ! He is God manifest in the flesh!

Go to your Bible and look. God has never spoken again outside the mouth of Jesus Christ! What a wonderful revelation to the oneness of God.

Truly in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily!

Thanks for reading today!

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