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!

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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?

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!

How far is it from happy to unhappy? Tuesday, Jul 20 2010 

Is there a zero point where you go from 1% happy to 1% unhappy?

Is there a scale that tips ever so gently and you cross from satisfied to unsatisfied?

Is there a continuum that you cross from content to contentious?

It would appear there is some line of demarcation that must be crossed.

It seems a bit far fetched to happy and unhappy at the same time.

Can you be satisfied and unsatisfied simultaneously?

Are contentious people content while they “Do their thing?”

To be content according to the New Testament greek, it means you raise a barrier.  You keep things out.  You guard yourself, especially your mind.

You bring every thought into the obedience of Jesus Christ.  You raise a barrier and say whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are good, a good report, etc.

When we fail to do that, we cross over that indiscernible, unseen line to being contentious.

In Corinth, Paul had contentious people who asked how long is long hair on a woman? These people had dropped a barrier.

In the letter to the Romans, Paul equates contentious people with being disobedient (2.8).

In three missionary journeys Paul had learned to be content.  He had been opposed numerous times by contentious people.  How did he survive their attacks?  He raised a barrier.

Proverbs informs us both men and women are prone to being contentious.

Contentious people are easy to spot. They find fault.  Their life is worse than anyone else’s.

Their church just isn’t what it needs to be.

Their pastor just needs to be more like Mr. Neighboring Pastor.

The music is too loud.

The sermon is too long.

The standards are too strict.

Sitting next to them on the pew or maybe a few feet away is a new convert who is content!

The new convert says,

I love our music.

Wow, what a sermon!

Amen Pastor, preach holiness!

This is the best church I have ever been to!

Our pastor is the best pastor in the whole world!

Both in the same church, same pew.  Same sermon, same choir, same nursery, same hostess, same ushers, same pastor, same music, same songs.

What is the difference?

I guess the difference is the distance from content to contentious.

The distance from satisfied to unsatisfied.

The distance from happy to unhappy.

Thanks for reading today!

The secret of the Apostle Paul’s success Monday, Jul 19 2010 

Paul was about 51 years old.  He was slowly making his way from Athens to Corinth.  His mind and body were on overload.  The events and journeys were taking their toll and he was off balance and on the ropes.

On the first journey there had been the opposition in many cities.  It had been a  continual fight until he reached Derbe.  Included in this section of his life was the near death experience of the stoning at Lystra.

Now he was headed toward Corinth with Athens in his rear view mirror.  He reveals his thoughts in his writings.  He was in despair.  He was so low he actually despaired of life.

Paul was at his lowest point. Looming in front of him was his greatest challenge.  Greater than the cities of Asia minor, greater even than Athens, the intellectual capital of the world.

Recently, he accepted the failed completion of a church in Philippi, then Thessolinica, then again in Berea, and finally the collaspe in Athens!

Somewhere along the dusty travelled road in AD 51, Paul decided I will preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, and nothing else.  Beaten and discouraged, Paul was not ready for what would happen in Corinth.

Corinth was the second largest city in the empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people.  Only the capital, Rome was larger.  The city was new, as it had been destroyed only 100 years before by the Romans and then rebuilt.  It show cased modern architecture.

Corinth was only a few miles from a seaport so there were sailors who came to visit the temple that offered 1000 prostitutes as a form of worship to the Gods of Corinth.  There were Roman officials, a large Jewish population, soldiers, orientals, and every strata of life.

Into this morass walked Paul at his lowest point.  The greatest apostle at his worst, pitted against the greatest challenge of his day.  The result is history!

In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world.  The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.

The failures of Athens, Berea, Thessolinica, and Philippi, faded as Corinth unfolded.

At the end of his second missionary journey, Paul had fully recovered in every way.  What was his secret?

While reading the books written to Corinth again recently I was struck by the big picture of chapter seven of the first letter.  So often I have seen the mechanics of this chapter, marriage, virgins, widows, servants, free men, etc.

I realized in all this discussion there rested the secret of Paul’s life and success like an un-mined diamond.

He addressed people that were unhappily married, he addressed virgins, he addressed servants, he addressed free men, he addressed widows, he addressed circumcision.

In all of it he stressed for people to be content!

That was Paul’s secret, to be content! He weaves this thread into many of his other writings.

To the Philippians…be content, 4.11

To Timothy…with food and clothes…be content, 6.8, 6.6

To the Hebrews….be content…13.5

It was the balm for every running issue of life.

Servants, be content!

Free men, be content!

Unhappy married people, be content!

Widows, be content!

Whatever your calling, be content!

Maybe, just maybe, if you could forget your Lystras, your Bereas, your Athens, you might reach your Corinth when you least expect it!

Maybe, just maybe, your greatest season of life is waiting for you when you become content.

When the servant seethes in resentment because they are not free, when the unhappy marriage poisons your daily life, when the past disappointments over whelm you, reach out and pick up Paul’s secret of success!

Find contentment in your life and maybe just maybe, there is a Corinth waiting for you!

Maybe at your lowest, and life’s challenge at it’s most formidable, contentment will bring you your greatest moment!

Godliness with contentment is great gain!

Thanks for reading today!

The 67th Book Of The Bible Saturday, Jun 12 2010 

“There is an earthquake in your mouth”   Acts 16.16-26
When God decides to use you – it is always after he tries you.
Greatness is chosen out of the furnace of affliction and adversity.
Find somebody mightily used of God – somewhere they have been broken – they may look humble – but they can fight or they wouldn’t be where they are.
We are broken in private – it is lonely – no one really understands.  We want people to understand our woundings and hurtings – God wants a vessel for oil to flow through.  (His love is perfect & unknowable)
They that live godly shall suffer persecution.  We have almost made people believe if you have great faith – you won’t go through anything – that’s not true.  No one is exempt from pain.
In the text, Paul and Silas got in a prison.  From prominence to prison.  God is sovereign. He can bless you in a mess.
Some of the most wretched ungodly people make the best christians.  Nothing worse than a bunch of goody two shoe christians who brag about what the haven’t done.
Some folks are just so glad to be saved.  They’ve been through so much, they have hurt so long, they’ve wept so many nights, they’ve suffered and wrestled with anger and sin and violence.  They’ve been victimized and abused, mistreated, some have been molested and ostracized.  They are full of guilt – then they hear about the blood of Jesus that washes them and gives them a 2nd chance.
While you argue over who’s gonna get this position, who’s got the biggest church, who’s the greatest preacher, who can hit the highest note, they are just so glad to be saved, don’t care if they ever get called on – just glad to be washed in the blood!
When you start doing things for God you are gonna run into opposition.  Paul and Silas got on the enemies hit list by doing the will of God.  They had fooled around and delivered a witch, broke a yoke, and put some evil men out of business – that’s what good church do – they shut down some things.
We need to shut some things down.  Quit being so nice – Paul just shut it down – didn’t ask anybody – Don’t let anybody tell you that doing the will of God won’t get you in trouble – it will.
I have learned from personal experience, you can be right and be treated wrong.  Be criticized – doing right, be lied on – can’t even defend yourself.  You can be victimized and have to hold your peace – can’t say nothing – just have wait on the Lord to straighten it out.  You can suffer many days – God does nothing – he lets you suffer.
God moved Paul’s ministry into the prison where he was treated like an animal, stripped and beaten.
Paul had had a bad day.
There are all kinds of prisons.  Sometimes you can’t even explain your prison – people make assumptions – yak, yak, yak (like Job’s friends!)
I came to tell you – God is gonna get glory out of the worst circumstances of your life.
You need to tell someone – something good is gonna come out of this – it hurts, I’m crying, I’m in trouble – I’m not in this for nothing.
Without trials – You only have a theory.

You are only looking in the window – you can get in a prison and not know how you got there!  When you get there you’ll learn how to pray!  You won’t need books or tapes or seminars.  People talking about you like a dog – you will pray!  (When you hurt bad enough)
Learn to say with me – Glad for the Bad – it made me pray!
Some of you have resented your problems – they made you – you have to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ – nobody helped me – but check it out I’m still here!  I’m tougher than I look. I’m a survivor!
Tell yourself about your friends – Thank you for not helping me – or I’d have had to praise you – but I had to pray – now I praise Him (I think I’ll praise Him for things I can’t testify about) (The victim – perpetrator)
Ez. 3.10-15…Ezekiel
I was hot, wroth.  God said sit where they lay sat – you must sit where they sit.  Put your books up and sit where I sat – 7 days.  I was astonished.  He lived as a captive.  He visited the jailhouse.
I’ve spent some nights in a prison and I wanted out, but, can’t think or figure or budget my way out – I was in prison.  Did not know how to get out.
God did not deliver us from on high – He came through 42 generations, into a dressing room called Mary’s womb wrapped himself in flesh and for 33 years sat where we sat!  Touched by the feelings of our infirmities.  Tempted in all points.  Sat where we sat!  (He feels what I feel)
God is not into child abuse – you are coming out of your trouble! God is gonna get a lot of glory from your pain.  God will reverse your trouble and pain.
The bible says the enemy must pay you back double for every night you cried and suffered, every injury.  Is. 61.7
Paul and Silas went from notoriety to obscurity – why??  Someone beating your child and you don’t stop them?  God suffered it for greater glory.
When people see what you have been through they are going to believe in God!  They have seen God’s power in you.  Tell yourself I am a testimony. I haven’t lost my mind, haven’t thrown in the towel, I’m in church – I am a testimony to the power of God.
You are the 67th book of the Bible. People are gonna read you and believe in God.
I don’t have to argue with you if Jesus is real: look at meIf He wasn’t real I wouldn’t be here!
Paul – the man of faith, power – epistle writer, beaten – stripped – sitting where they sat.  When he went in there was no singing.  Sometimes you can’t sing – I told myself I’d never go through this and here I am in it.  No shouting – they beat him, took all day late into the night.
God – I thought you loved me – Here I am bound.  I’m doing my best.  No deliverance – no escape no release – torment, suffering – God where are you – they are gonna kill me –I thought I’d be out of this by now.

God doesn’t even clear his throat.  You did it for Peter in Acts 12, why not for me?
No wind, no earthquake, no apostles pleading his case.  Where are the people I helped and blessed? Where are they? Where are my “friends”?  God why am I in this situation.
I might not even get out, but since I’m in this jam, I might as well learn how to survive.
I don’t see anything to be happy about I don’t feel happy. No cards, no letters, no good news.
But at midnight – I’m gonna think myself happy – whatsoever is good, pure, lovely, if there be any virtue, and praise and at Midnight.
In somebody’s life it is midnight.  You have been depressed, ostracized, criticized.  You have thought about giving up, throwing in the towel – now it’s 11:59 – you might as well praise God.  Open your mouth and cause an earthquake.
I will bless the Lord at all times – his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Even in bad times, I’m a single parent, I’m divorced, been mistreated, and misunderstood – but I’m gonna praise Him.  I’ve had some pain and I’ve had some scars but I will bless the Lord.  I’m a disciplined soldier!!
It’s midnight – it’s time to praise Him.
Time to get out of your prison.  Now or never!
There’s an earthquake in your mouth – open it up and praise him!  Give God praise!

You’ve gotta change your attitude while your are in the prison – then God delivers you.
You could have been out a long time ago – your deliverance is in your mouth – stop murmuring, complaining and feeling sorry for your self – stop blaming other people – throw back your head and praise God!!
Somebody needs to say – I’m coming out of this.  Excuse me – I’m coming out.  I’ve been in this long enough – I’m coming out!
C’mon survivor – get out right now!
When you get loose – everything in the prison gets set free, everything around you, connected to you – family, friends –
Devil I’m mad – you should have never let me get in the prison – cause now I’m not coming out alone I’m bringing everything out with me.
If you praise him – no prison can hold you!
Thanks for reading today!

The Gospel Of Luke Thursday, May 13 2010 

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.

How will YOU die? Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

How will YOU die?

He was cold! He was way beyond the kind of temporary cold that gives you shivers.  The cold he felt was way down in his bones, and had been there for weeks.  He wished for the thousandth time for the cloak he left in Troas.  Life would be easier when Timothy arrived with the books and parchments.

Six feet away, across his cell was a large rat.  They eyed each other with measured tolerance.  He had long tired of trying to make the rat leave for good.  The rat always came back.  It was no longer worth the effort to accost the rat.  He and the rat certainly weren’t friends, but they had learned to co-exist.

He reached over and picked up his writing instrument and parchment. The voice inside him told him to write.  So he dipped his quill in the borrowed ink, and began.

As he formulated the words that were appearing in his mind, another part of his mind began to go back over the years…..

He smiled as he remembered that day on the road.  It seemed like just yesterday.  Then there was the time in Arabia.  The years began to unfold like a novel, like a slow motion reel.

He drifted back through the years, the cities, the trials, the beatings, and the stonings.  Once again he asked himself if he had done all his master had asked of him.  He honestly could not see any way it could have turned out differently.

The other part of his mind returned back to the parchment, and he began.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course.  I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness….

He finished the final words of his last letter. He was well aware he would never again pen another syllable.

He heard the jingle of keys. Marcus came into view.  Marcus was his most recent convert, albeit secretly.  He said to Marcus,”It’s okay, I understand.”  Tears began a slow roll down Marcus’ cheeks.

He rose, straightened, and started for the door, and noticed the rat seemed to be smirking.

The stairs seemed steeper than he remembered.  The light of day was blinding.  He had lost count of the days in the underground cell.  Slowly he looked around.  Spring had arrived, his last spring of his 67 years.

He saw the executioner waiting.  How far?  Maybe a hundred steps?  He started the final one hundred steps of his earthly journey.   He drew up at the chopping block.

With one long last look around the Appian Way, and a smile for Marcus tear stained face, he knelt and placed his head on the block.  The Roman official placed a check next to his name on the slate and nodded to the ax man.

In one slow movement, while heaven held it’s breath, the ax was raised. It paused for a fraction of a second, then in blinding speed arched downward.  His head, severed from his body rolled over the edge of the block and dropped to the ground and rolled twice.  Unseeing eyes on mortal earth stared upward.

In the immeasurable moment when head and body were separated, his spirit was free.  He was free of the hardships, free of the privation.  He was free and approaching the gates.

The gate was also about one hundred steps.  He could see the crowds cheering.  It was that great cloud of witnesses he had written about in his letter to the Hebrews.

They were all there.  Some were from the highlands of Galatia, others from the sea coasts of Macedonia.  There were some from Caesars’ household, and some converted rulers of the synagogue.

They were waiting, cheering, and welcoming him home.

And then there was Jesus for the first time.

He never quite remembers those last few steps, he only remembers falling at Jesus feet.  And the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

So Paul, the Christian sage of the ages died.

How will YOU die?

Will you be bitter?

Will you have regrets?

In the prison, Paul called himself “The prisoner of the Lord.” He knew that no mere, mortal Caesar could imprison an apostle without his master’s assent.

Do you see your prison as approved by the master?

How will YOU die?

Thanks for reading today!

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