Cell Groups

cell groups 00

Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho of Seoul, Korea made the model of cell groups popular for churches.  With a church of several hundred thousands I’m sure it was needed for the people to feel connected.  Many churches around the world have taken that cell group model and adapted it to their use.

Some churches have made their cell groups into geographical or neighborhood groupings.  Others into “like interest” i.e: parents with young children, parents with teenagers, seniors, business leaders/owners, teachers, etc.

I got to thinking about biblical cell groups and wondered if I truly even wanted to be in one!  The first one that came to mind was Paul and Silas.  Now that was truly a cell group!  Only two.  Oh, wait … there were three … Jesus was there!  Don’t know that I would want to be in that group.  They had been beaten and thrown into the prison cell.  Not just thrown but had feet in stocks.   What would they have done with a cramp in their leg?  BUT … their group was quite successful in that they got out of their cell group!  How?  They prayed and sang to the Lord and the other prisoners were listening to them.  I wonder if they were thinking “how can they sing in this situation?”!

Suddenly there was an earthquake and all the doors were opened and the bonds were loosed!  I wonder, did they sing THAT loudly? They didn’t use this as a means to escape but as an opportunity to minister! (Acts 16).

Then there was Peter in his cell group (Acts 12).  He was alone, well, not quite.  There were sixteen guards watching over him plus a few angels who were keeping quiet until everybody fell asleep.  I guess maybe it might be OK to sleep in a cell group meeting?  Well Peter did! And so did the guards.  I don’t think that was proper guard duty but they weren’t too worried… Peter was sleeping between them, bound with chains and sentries at the door!  Nap time.  Now it’s quiet.  Dark.  Perhaps some snores.  THEN an angel of the Lord stood next to him, a light filled the cell, the angel struck Peter on the side waking him up, told him to get up quickly and Peter obeyed! Yeah for Peter!  Then the chains fell off (guards were sleeping soundly!!) … the angel told him to get dressed quickly and to put on his shoes because they were going to go for a walk and get out of jail free!

Peter didn’t even think he was awake.  He thought he was having a vision!  They walked right past the first and second guards and then came to the iron gate leading into the city.  The gate opened by itself, they went down one street and the angel disappeared.  WOW!  That was some cell group escape!

Let’s see … then, there was Joseph’s cell group.  Goodness he had been having quite a streak of bad “luck” for several years!  Now he finds himself in prison and he’s the only believer.  But he didn’t sit down and think, “I’ve no one to fellowship with so I think I’ll just give up!”  No, he found others that he could help.  Even in his cell the “Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:21, ESV).  The Lord used Joseph IN the prison cell “until the time…”.  God had a purpose for Joseph in his cell group and He had a time for his release.

Then there was Jeremiah in his prison cell and finally thrown in a dungeon of mud (Jeremiah 37 & 38).  Daniel in his cell of lions (Daniel 6)!  Samson because of his disobedience was in a prison cell but there he repented and brought about a great victory for the Israelites in his death (Judges 16).

If we truly want to follow the biblical example for cell groups maybe we should all be put in prison?  I have concluded that for me … maybe I don’t want to be a part of a biblical cell group!  I might want to stick to one that teaches me how to live for Jesus right here on this planet until He comes for me!

(Most of my “Connie’s Contemplations” have been serious thoughts on my part.  Some of them however (such as this one!) is a little more on the humorous side such as was my “God’s Tattoos”.  So this was written with tongue in cheek!)

Bad Dads, Good Dads

bad dads good dads 01

It is not easy being a parent!  We all wish we had the “perfect” child … always  quick to obey, doing things the way we want them done, never causing us a moment of unrest or worry.  Won’t happen!

The Bible gives instructions on how to be a good dad.  Unfortunately there are some men who are anything but.  Look at some of the examples in the Bible that I would call “BAD DAD’S” (or at least not the best dad’s!) …

JACOB

He was a deceiver from the beginning.  Deceived his brother out of his birthright, tricked his dad into thinking he was someone else, had to leave home to save his life and tricked his father-in-law when he left the family business!

With his own children he favored (really spoiled!) the son of his favorite wife which caused all kinds of hard feelings from his other sons.

However, the instance that really troubles me is when his daughter, Dinah, was raped he didn’t defend her!  It was two of her brothers that took up her cause … now that’s another issue we won’t deal with here!

So as I look at Jacob he doesn’t win the “Father of the Year” award.

As a side bar though, at least he did something right in teaching Joseph about God because Joseph stayed true to God in his captivity!

ELI

We don’t know a whole lot about Eli as a priest.  We do know that he had difficulty discerning between a broken hearted woman and a drunk!  We don’t know why his priestly influence didn’t extend to his two sons but we do know that they were not good men!  They served as priests but I Samuel 2:12 calls them “sons of Belial (the devil); they knew not the Lord”.  These sons refused to obey the Lord, they took the flesh from the sacrificial offering for themselves, they committed adultery with women who came to the door of the tabernacle and they refused to obey truth and quit sinning even when found out.

You might be saying, “but this was the sons … not Eli”.  True, in reading I Samuel 3 we do see that he did talk to them about their behavior but verse 13, “he restrained them not

It IS a dad’s responsibility (and mom too!) to bring discipline and correction and teaching of God’s laws to their children … we cannot force them to believe but Eli should not have let them continue in their role as priests.

I have to hand it to Hannah who trusted God with her dear son to give him to a lousy dad to raise!

KING DAVID

King David was called “a man after God’s own heart”.  He was a mighty warrior and blessed of God.  Again, however, in the parenting department he wasn’t so great!  Three of his children come to mind quickly … Tamar (II Samuel 13) who was raped by her brother and David did nothing.

It is also amazing the reaction of King David to his son Absalom.  Absalom was the one who took the responsibility of dealing with his brother Amnon (the one who raped Tamar) and killed him!  Absalom fled the country and II Samuel 13:37 says, “And David mourned for his son every day.”  No mourning over Tamar!

Going on in the story of Absalom we know that he betrayed his own father and tried to usurp the throne away from his dad.  In the ensuing war David told his men not to harm Absalom if they found him.  But his warning was dismissed and when Absalom was found with his hair caught in a tree, he was killed.

David’s reaction is found in chapter 18:33, “And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 

David had another son, Adonijah, who was Absalom’s brother and he also tried to usurp the throne.  I Kings 1:6 says this of David, “And his father had not rebuked him at any time …”  Doesn’t speak well of being a dad!

Finally in the “Bad Dad” department we must mention the worst father of all … satan!  John 8:44, “… he is a liar, and the father of it.”

God is ALL truth … satan is a liar!!

We are not going to end there … I want to mention a couple “GOOD DAD’S”

JAIRUS

Jairus was an important man in the Jewish community during the time of Jesus’ life on earth.  He was one of the rulers of the synagogue and most of them were not enthralled with Jesus!  But he threw his position to the wind when his only child, a daughter, lay dying.

Jairus went to seek out Jesus and “when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.” (Mark 5:22, 23)

He KNEW Jesus held the answer for his daughter … Jesus went with him and brought life back into the child.

ABRAHAM

This is a hard one because God was asking Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice to Him.  Abraham had waited years and years for the birth of this boy and he LOVED him!  There are many lessons here but that is for another time!  What I want to show is that Abraham proved he loved God more than he loved his own flesh and blood.

The Bible does not give us Abraham’s reaction to God’s command but we do know he obeyed and God gave Abraham back his child.

The best Father of all …

GOD

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God cannot look upon sin.  He will not allow disobedience to His Word to go unpunished.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, He drove them out of the garden.

But He did not leave them alone … in God’s great foreknowledge He already had a plan for deliverance, for salvation and a way for them to come back into fellowship with Him.  The cross was God’s plan!

From eternity God had a plan of redemption.  Jesus left heaven, came to earth born of a virgin, lived as God/man, sinless in perfection, was crucified, buried but ROSE AGAIN that we might have eternal life in Him.  Why?  Because of His great love for us … the Best Dad ever!`

I hope no one who reads this feels that you can’t measure up in the parenting department.  We ALL make mistakes and none of us are perfect! Maybe you feel “I’m a bad parent” …

A number of years ago we were ministering in Japan and at the close of the service Ronn was praying for some missionaries who were from Finland.  Ronn sensed a dark cloud over one of the ladies and spoke to her privately.  She told him that she didn’t feel worthy of serving as a missionary because one of her children was far from God, living with someone outside of marriage and had left the faith.  Ronn felt the Lord saying something to him which he passed on to her … “God was the only perfect parent and he had two children who went wrong!”

So don’t beat yourself up!  Keeping praying, keeping seeking God for His wisdom in the parenting department and He WILL help you.

Comfort Food

comfort-food-collections-950x217

I’ve heard it’s mac and cheese.  Maybe for you it’s chicken and dumplings.  Perhaps it’s just something from your childhood.  I was grocery shopping today and was ready to go to the check out line when I remembered I was out of my comfort food so I did NOT do the right thing … I returned and bought …

Siri says that comfort food provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone … or an individual.

I will admit that maybe mine is a little crazy … just give me some good ol’ tortilla chips!  I don’t even need salsa or guacamole … although that sure sounds good!  Just make those chips salty!

What do I grab for when I feel “the need”?  Tortilla chips!  I have been known to get up in the middle of the night and grab a handful (well maybe two or three handfuls!) while devouring my other comfort food … the Word of God.

It’s so happens that many nights I cannot sleep long or well or not at all so I often have my devotions in the middle of the night (and not always with chips!  Of course it helps when I don’t have them in the house!!)

The Bible is many things to us and it IS and DOES bring us comfort.  What do you go to when you have/are …

lonely
Hebrews 13:5, “I  will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

a prolonged illness
Psalms 103:3, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: who healeth all 
thy diseases”

a wayward child
Acts 11:14, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy 
house shall be saved.”

betrayed by a friend
Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another,
if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, 
so also do ye.”
Proverbs 18:24, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

loss of job or promotion
Proverbs 16:3, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts 
shall be established.”
Romans 12:11, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving 
the Lord”

barrenness
Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in 
prayer.”

death of a loved one
Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with 
you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do 
not be discouraged.”
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”

spouse’s dementia
Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor 
angels, nor rulers, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor 
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us 
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

a pending move
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not 
lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, 
and he will make straight (direct) your paths.”

financial difficulties
Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to 
his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

marital problems
Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all 
sins.”

singleness
Hosea 2:19, “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will 
betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in 
loving kindness, and in mercies.”

business decisions
Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the 
ungodly, nor stands in the path of  sinners, nor sits in the seat of 
the scornful; but  his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His 
law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by 
the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose 
leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

discouraged
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may
have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage;
I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 27:14, Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take 
courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

What is it you need?  Turn to “the Word”!  Look in the Book!  

If food is important to our physical bodies (a well rounded diet … not just our favorite “comfort food”!) how much more is His Word, our spiritual food, needed by our spirits!  We can and do find comfort in His Word …but it is so much more!  Study it, meditate upon it, get it into your spirit!

Accursed Things

accursed things00

I have read the book of Joshua many times but reading it the other day a new thought stood out to me concerning the defeat of the Israelites at Ai.

The defeat of Jericho fueled the enthusiasm of the Israelites.  It was a victorious and enthusiastic win … now on to conquer Ai.  God had given specific instructions regarding Jericho and Joshua thought all was well.  However, what is hidden WILL be revealed.  “Be sure your sins will find you out”! (Numbers 32:23).

The instruction from the Lord, through Joshua, was clear (6:18-19), “By all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasure of the Lord.”

Unknown to Joshua, one of the Israelites, Achan, had taken a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels.

Achan didn’t just disobey but he stole from God!  6:19 makes it clear that all the gold, silver, bronze and iron were to go into the treasury of the Lord.  This was the Israelites first battle and the first fruits belonged to God … spoils would come from later battles.  The “accursed” thing was devoted to God and became “accursed” when stolen and taken for personal use.

Achan thought no one knew.  But God sees all.  God knows.  God reveals.  Discipline and punishment followed.  There are always consequences to sin.  In the Old Testament days Achan’s family also suffered the consequences of his sin.  Achan alone defied the ban, but this disobedience is seen as that of the whole nation because of the Old Testament principle of corporate solidarity.  No person sins alone … there are ripple effects.

After the victory at Jericho Joshua then sent men to spy out the city of Ai. It was a smaller city and the spies saw how easy it would be to conquer and even suggested a small amount of men to go fight.  Joshua trusted his men, sent only 3000 men and the Israelites were soundly defeated.  They were chased back and 36 Israelites were killed!

What happened?  What caused this resounding defeat after such a great victory?  Joshua fell before the Lord, tore his clothes then he and the elders put dust on their heads as an outward expression of deep sorrow and grief.  Joshua even began to question if they should have even stayed on the other side of the Jordan!  Joshua was concerned that when the other Canaanites and inhabitants of the land would hear about the Israelites turning and running … “what will You do for Your great name?”  God’s reputation was at stake!

There was defeat in the land of victory!  Defeat robbed God of His glory!  The corporate body was held back because of one man’s hidden sin! Being defeated by their enemies was one of the consequences of disobedience.

Joshua was on his face before God but God told him to “Get up!  Why do you lie thus on your face?  Israel has sinned, (notice it’s corporate) and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them.  For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.”

Sin held back the victory.  Prayer alone, being on your face before God won’t “fix” it.   There was sin in the camp and the sin had to be rooted out.  Only then could victory be assured.  The people were promised success and prosperity, but only if they acted in obedience (1:8,9).

Joshua “gets up” and follows the instructions God gave to find and deal with the offender.  The people, to be consecrated to God, had to separate themselves from the offender.  Achan was discovered to be the guilty one, he confessed but the punishment was severe … death for himself and his family!

God doesn’t play games!

Here is what God showed me …

What are the accursed things that we as individuals have brought into our lives from the world around us that God has said “NO!” about?  Things that are keeping us from victory?  Things that are hindering our families, our churches, and yes our nation … from the victory that God wants us to enjoy?

There are things that God has said are NOT permissible … being unequally yoked with an unbeliever, fornication, adultery, drinking to excess, lying, looking at pornography, homosexuality (OK, you get the idea!).  Are we going places that are questionable?  Have we become so enamored with the secular world that we want their things?  Do we emulate their “stars”, their entertainment, their dress?  I know I am sounding legalistic but where do we draw the line?

We take the world’s things, perhaps in secret, and think we can remain “holy” and yet when we take the things of the world and try to hide them that alone should tell us we know we are wrong.

Do we desire the things of the world more than the holiness of God?  Do we want what the world has instead of being obedient to His Word?  Who do we love more?  Self? Things of the world?  God?  Who do we want to please?  Self? The world? God?

There is a little chorus that I learned as a small child, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see (ears what you hear, feet where you go …) for the Father up above is looking down in tender love, O be careful little eyes what you see”.

There are steps that lead to sin … Achan saw, he coveted, he took, he hid.  Eve saw, she coveted, she took, she hid.  King David saw, he coveted, he took, he tried to hide his sin.

But God saw it all.

Achan, Eve, King David … you, me … all of us will suffer the consequences of sin.  Yes, God forgives and then He FORGETS!  But consequences follow.  But here is the encouragement from the Lord … now “don’t be afraid, don’t be dismayed … arise, go, take possession”!  And take the spoils!!

One man’s sin brought about this defeat and the loss of 36 mighty men.  One sin is what caused Adam and the whole race to be under a curse.  One sin brings the same result as committing all sins. One lie brought about the instant death of Ananias and Sapphira.

After the cleansing then the Lord spoke to Joshua again and told him to go and attack Ai and they would be victorious and this time they could keep the plunder and the livestock … Obedience brings victory AND reward.

Look at some of the promises …

Deut 28:1-2 “If you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments … the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth …”

Leviticus 18:5, “So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord.”

Isaiah 1:19, “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.”

I Samuel 15:22, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice …”

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Determine to root out the secret sin … the besetting sin.  Confess, repent and let God begin to bless your life and bring about the victory you so desire!

Fake News

fake news

Personally I am so tired of the “news”!  I listen and then get up and leave or turn it off.  No news.  Some news.  All news.  Real news.  Half truth news.  Fake news.

What is “fake”?  Pretend, deceptive, fraudulent, untrue.

“Fake News” is a relatively new term in today’s lexicon.

Departing from the “news” I began thinking about other “fake news” stories …  (fake news in bold … real truth news in italics) …

“There is no life after death”

Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.”  

II Corinthians 5:8, “To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  

John 11:25, “Jesus said … I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live …”  

John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (ESV)

“There is no devil”

Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say…” (NIV).

Isaiah 14:12, “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” (NKJV)

“There is no hell”

Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Revelation 21:8, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (ESV)

“The 10 Commandments are not valid for today”

Matthew 5:17-19, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

“The Old Testament is not for today”

1) “The Old Testament substantially influences our understanding of key Biblical teachings…Some doctrines of Scripture are best understood only from the OT…the NT worldview and teachings are built on the framework supplied in the OT.  In the NT we find literally hundreds of OT quotations, allusions, and echoes, none of which we’ll fully grasp apart from saturating ourselves in Jesus’s Bible.”

2) “Jesus said that all the OT points to him (John 5:39) … if you want to know Jesus more, read the OT!”

3)  “Paul commands church leaders to preach the OT … Paul was referring to the OT when he spoke of the ‘sacred writings’ that are able to make a person ‘wise for salvation’ and the ‘Scripture’ that is ‘breathed out by God and profitable’ (II Timothy 4:2-4).”

(all above quoted from The Gospel Coalition, 10 Reasons the Old Testament is Important for Christians)

“I’m too bad and even God can’t forgive me”

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”  There is NO sin, but one, that God won’t forgive … a repentant sinner He will NOT turn away.  The one sin?  Matthew 12:31-32, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (KJV)

“It’s too late to give my life to Christ”

The thief on the cross, moments from death said to Jesus in Luke 23:42-43, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’.  And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (ESV)

“God doesn’t love me”

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  (KJV) That LOVE includes EVERYONE!

“Everybody is going to heaven”

I Timothy 1:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.
Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction …”

“There are many roads to God/Heaven”

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  

Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)

“I am good enough”

Romans 3:10, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (KJV)

“How can I know the Bible is true”

Fulfilled prophecy!  The Old Testament was written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus and contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection.  Here are just a few …

1)  The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem … Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah.  Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” … Matthew 2:1-6, “Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea …”

2)  The Messiah will be born of a virgin … Isaiah 7:14, “…Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel — ‘God is with us.’”  Matthew 1:20, “…for the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.”

3)  The Messiah will enter Jerusalem triumphantly … Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem  Look, your king is coming to you.  He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey — even on a donkey’s colt.” … Luke 19:35, “So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for Him to ride on.”

4)  The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver … Zechariah 11:12-13, “And I said unto them, ‘If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear.  So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. … And I took the thirty pieces of silver …” … Matthew 26:14-16, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, ‘How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?’ And they gave him thirty pieces of silver…”

(For a more complete list of fulfilled prophecies, go to “Biblical Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus at CBN.com).

“The Bible is an irrelevant book for today”

The Bible is a book about Jesus and how He can change lives.  It’s a LIVING book.  Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (NKJV).

Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not…” (KJV)

“I don’t need to read the Bible”

II Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV).  If you are a doctor, teacher, attorney or in many other professions you keep reading and studying to keep up on the latest information.  We eat physical food to stay alive … we need spiritual food to stay alive spiritually!

“I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian”

Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (KJV)

“Jesus is a crutch”

Is there a better One to lean on?

“You can’t be sure where you are going after death”

Romans 10:9, “If you confess with you mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  John 10:9, “I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”(ESV)

“There is nothing I have to do” … “There are no rules to follow”

Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”

Micah 6:8, “What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

There are MANY verses in the Bible as to the “do’s and don’ts” of the Christian life … We obey because we LOVE Him.

Don’t be mislead by the “fake news” that we hear today from many pulpits … “Jesus Christ the one yesterday, and today, and forever”!!

Willing To Burn?

burn01

I cannot believe I’m living in this day!  The evil that is being normalized, the sexes trading places, wrong being legally made “right”.

I was reading earlier today the story of the three Hebrew young men in Daniel 3.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego … wonder what they would think if they lived today!  They were facing death by burning if they didn’t bow.  We are not even there yet and we are already bowing!

These three did not give in to peer pressure, political pressure or economical pressure and were not afraid of physical pain or death.

Why are we so afraid?  I’ve had to ask myself that question.  Am I speaking out?  Or am I afraid of what my family/friends might say of me?  Would it ruin my reputation?

We are being told that if we don’t acquiesce we will lose funding for schools, we will lose  our church tax exemption, we will lose our pastor’s housing allowance, we will lose  ….

Our children are being brainwashed to think they can “choose” who they will be … male or female!  I can see it now when a pregnant woman goes in for her first sonogram, “Oh, congratulations!  It’s a … whatever you want it to be!”  NO!  We wait to hear “it’s a boy” or “it’s a girl”.  Our chromosomes tell us what we are!

Are we willing to go into the furnace?  Are we willing to die to protect what is RIGHT?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing.  They had a faith in God that was bedrock.  They would NOT bow!  They would not bend their knee to do what was politically expedient.  They were not going to publicly bow and say in their hearts, “God you know I’m only doing this to save my job, my position … but You know my heart!”  NO!  They were willing to burn!

They did not know that God was going to deliver them.  They did not know that He would show up AFTER they were in the furnace!  They did not know that they would be unharmed.  Their faith in God was “whatever happens, I’m His!”

When facing King Nebuchadnezzar their answer was, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

When man’s law contradicts God’s law … we HAVE to take a stand.  We MUST speak up!

Are we teaching our children God’s ways?  Are we speaking up in public school meetings?  Are we teaching by words and actions that we are to live by God’s Word? Or are we saying things that contradict what we believe? Are we watching shows on TV and movies that numb our conscience to sin?

We MUST stand for truth!  God’s truth!

There’s a little chorus with these words … “I will not bow, I will not bend, I will not burn”.

The 13th Floor

13 02

Ronn and I are in a hotel right at this moment … on the 14th floor.  Really?  Not at all … the elevator button tells me that the floors go from 12 to 14.  So in reality we are on the  13th floor.

Just because you ignore something or rename it doesn’t change the reality.

Many hotels, high rise buildings and some airplanes just skip number 13.  In my book that is simply silly.  Did you know that there is actually a name for the fear of the number 13?  The phobia is called Triskaidekaphobia.  However some folks think this number is a lucky number.

It’s a number!

Made me think … are there things in my life that I think will go away if I ignore them or rename them?  Oh, my gossip has been renamed “a prayer request”.  My anger is now called “righteous indignation”.  Explosive behavior is called a “short fuse”.  Speeding (now I’ve gone to meddlin’!) is “keeping up with traffic”.  That shortcut on my tax return is it really a “loophole”? A white lie is still a lie!

Just because culture renames sinful pleasures does that change God’s Word?

So what is my prayer today?  “Lord, help me to live honestly before you and before the world!”… even when I’m on the 14th floor!

Vulnerability

Vulnerability

I guess I got a little ticked the other day when on Facebook I saw an article (which I did NOT read!) that was saying God was a woman abuser because He did not get Mary’s OK, did not get her permission, to impregnate her.

HELLO!!!

Perhaps that person has never read Luke’s gospel!  When the angel appeared to Mary and announced to her that she had been chosen by God, Mary’s response was “…let it be to me according to your word.”  In my understanding that is a resounding “YES, LORD!”

Let’s back up … God is all knowing.  I believe He had prepared Mary for this encounter.  I don’t believe God was up in heaven wearing out a path in the flowers, wringing His hands and thinking, “Oh, who am I going to choose?  Who would be willing?  Who has a clean record? Who has a pure heart? Oh me, oh my … what am I going to do?”

No, I think (Connie speaking here) that Mary had a heart after God.  I think that as her brothers (my scenario) were studying with the rabbi, as her daddy with other fathers were perhaps discussing scripture over the dinner table that Mary had her antennas up, was listening and absorbing all she could of the scriptures and the Promised Messiah.  I think she was LOOKING for Him.  Maybe she was a little like a later Mary who just wanted to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen rather than helping in the kitchen!

God was not going to just willy-nilly pick any young girl to mother His only Son!  No, He chose Mary.  Luke 1:28 says she was “favored” and that the
Lord is with you”.  Verse 30, “you have found favor with God”.  

The angel then goes on to tell her she would “conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High …”

Mary’s only concern and question was “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel responded, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God.”

Now here’s Mary’s chance!  She could have said, “No way!  That is just impossible!  Even if this could happen Joseph won’t believe me! I will be put to death! Perchance if I should say, “go ahead, God!”  I don’t know that  I want to live a lifetime of people whispering behind my back.  Just think of the gossip!  NO ONE will believe that I was a virgin … I will be ostracized by my family”, etc.

Did Mary respond that way?  NO!  As stated above she said, “be it unto me!”  She gave permission!  She was vulnerable!  Look at the definition of vulnerability …  capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; open to moral attack, criticism.

She was willing to be ridiculed, criticized, laughed at, rejected and even stoned.

Which brings me to my additional point here … how vulnerable am I?  How vulnerable are you?

What if God asked you to do something that you thought was impossible?  Maybe it isn’t even something impossible but too far fetched!  Maybe you feel incapable or inadequate.  Perhaps you think He is asking just a little too much of you.  Your family and friends might think you a bit too daring or silly.  Are you willing to face prejudice, rejection or even failure?  Are you willing to be laughed at, gossiped about or criticized?

What is He asking of you?  What is He asking of me?

Do I/you have the gumption to be totally vulnerable?

Time

Time

I have a friend in her 80’s who recently told her family there was nothing she needed for Christmas but she would like their time.  So one evening her family came brought dinner and spent time with mom.  They also decorated her house for Christmas and promised to take the decorations down after Christmas.  Now that’s the kind of present I would like!

How often I’ve said to my husband, “I don’t need another sweater, blouse or kitchen trinket but I would like time to just “veg” with the family.”

That got me thinking … how does Jesus feel?  He also wants MY time.  Time to sit at His feet and fellowship with Him.

So often our times with Him are hurried, we throw up our prayers (which are more like “do this”, “I need this”, “heal so & so”) rather than sitting at His feet and listening to Him and worshiping Him.  No agenda.  No list.  Just worship.  I wonder, does He miss us?

Jesus won’t come down and bop us on the head and say, “SIT WITH ME A WHILE!”.  No, it’s our choice … it should be our longing.  Fellowship with Him!

I know how busy folks are today … but think priorities … Jesus and time with Him MUST be first!

I post a hymn every day on Facebook and today’s hymn was …

SITTING AT THE FEET OF JESUS

Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
Oh, what words I hear Him say!
Happy place! So near, so precious!
May it find me there each day;
Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
I would look upon the past;
For His love has been so gracious,
It has won my heart at last.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
Where can mortal be more blest?
There I lay my sins and sorrows,
And, when weary, find sweet rest;
Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
There I love to weep and pray;
While I from His fullness gather
Grace and comfort every day.

Bless me, O my Savior, bless me,
As I sit low at Thy feet;
Oh, look down in love upon me,
Let me see Thy face so sweet;
Give me, Lord, the mind of Jesus,
Keep me holy as He is;
May I prove I’ve been with Jesus,
Who is all my righteousness.

Another hymn comes to mind just now  … “Friendship with Jesus! Fellowship divine! Oh, what blessed, sweet communion! Jesus is a Friend of mine.”

Jesus first, others second.

Today’s families are scattered, many are broken, children are divided between parents and fellowship is denied.

Here is a challenge for you today … think of someone who would like to see you and make a visit.  Change your schedule. Family member, single mother/father, a lonely shut-in, a neighbor who needs encouragement, a care facility … add them to your time … but Jesus first!

Life Rules

life rules

A couple weeks before my birthday I began to pray about the future and in doing so looking back to the past as well.  I asked the Lord for three Life Rules to go forward.  He had already spoken to me several months ago about “Choose Joy” so I had one already!  As I sat and meditated three came to me rather quickly and I wrote them down and over the next few days many more started coming to me.

Here’s my list and you can add your own …

LIFE RULES

LOVE Jesus

Choose joy

Show grace

Live truth

Have mercy

Serve others

Pray consistently

Express Thankfulness

Be humble

Study the Word

Remain faithful

Express kindness

Always be grateful

Speak wisely

Write thoughtfully

Be still

Quietly listen

Act courageously

Smell the roses

Wait patiently

Fear God

Obey His commands

Sleep well

Give largely

Eat sparingly

Walk daily

Think positively

Sing daily

Encourage others

Praise continually

TRUST Him

I know the list could go on and on and I decided to quit before any more came to me!  I would be interested in what you add!

Here’s the point … there is SO much negativity around us.  We can all complain about things.  I am often reminded of how the children of Israel complained in the wilderness and the punishment they received because of it!  After ALL God had done for them … they still complained.  I know I have been guilty of the same and I try to quickly ask His forgiveness.

I do NOT want to be a complainer or a “whiner”.  When my children were little and they would begin to whine, I would ask them, “Are you a member of the Whiner family?”  (Now please forgive me if anyone reading this has the last name of “Whiner”!  I hope you know I do not want to be offensive!)

We need to develop a spirit of thankfulness instead of always looking for the negative.

I know I will be continually challenged on this!  So Connie, listen up … CHOOSE JOY and remember my list of Life Rules!