Posts belonging to Category Insights For Today



Glory to God… Forever

Glory to GodLord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2

Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike: My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding. Psalm 49:1-3 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. 1 Timothy 2:3-6a

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

AMEN!!!

Saved from Hinduism

What follows is a testimony from a friend of mine who is a former Hindu. Although his parents may consider him a failure because he left their religion and gave up their wealth, he now heads a large ministry with international connections. In God’s eyes, he is not a failure, he is one of God’s success stories.

The seashore was familiar; the beach was crowded as usual.  I walked toward the rolling waves.  “They are just like me” I thought “so restless.” I would be restless until I knew who I was, where I came from, and where I would go. Not only were these questions troubling me, but my guilty conscience also was beginning to bother me.

I was born in a well-respected, high-caste Hindu family.  My mother took great pains to teach me unadulterated Hindu orthodoxy.  She got up at four in the morning and after a dip in the temple tank, went into the local temple to have worship her favorite deity.  Very often she dragged me along with her. I would be deprived of my breakfast if I did not myself pay a morning visit to the temple.

We had our own family shrine also.  In the evenings we worshipped there.  We had our supper only after the ‘namam-japam’  (chanting of verses worshipping various deities).  As a teenager, I regularly got up around 4 am and after my ritual bath (which was a purification ritual). went into the temple to worship and pray to the various gods and goddesses.

From my early childhood, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a militant Hindu organization, began to mold my thinking.  The RSS (as it is commonly known) founders borrowed heavily from the Nazi Youth movement methodology.  It is the only fascist organization in the world so far that has not seen a split all these years.  It has similar goals as ‘al-Qaeda’ and Taliban and ISIS. but with Hinduism as the religion.  I was made to believe that India, Hindustan, is for Hindus and our goal should be a ‘Hindu-Raj’ (Hindu nation).  They taught that a true Indian can only be a Hindu and non-Hindus should embrace the Hindu philosophy  or leave India.  So I grew up with a strong hatred for people who were not Hindus, especially for Christians and Muslims.

In my teens, I felt I should serve my country through the RSS. My mission was to bring back ‘defectors’ from the Hindu faith who had become Christians and Muslims.  If we could mange to get a non-Hindu man ‘purified’ to Hinduism, this was considered to be the height of achievement.

However, there was a vacuum within me. Life was a riddle. Questions concerning my nature and destiny plagued my mind. To drown my endless questions and cover up my fears, I tried to get ‘kicks’ out of life.  Before I realized it, I was a slave to un-healthy habits. I became desperate.  My sincere attempts to break my habits and find answers to my questions led me from one god man to another and from one temple to another.  The result?  Disillusionment. I finally concluded that there was no meaning to life at all.

At that time, one of my friends, a doctor, told me he had an experience with Christ. He was a notoriously evil man. I could not believe the positive change I saw in him.  He was very enthusiastic about his new found faith and most of the time he talked about Christ. I thought the whole thing must be the effect of the moon on his brain.

About the same time, I met a student who had been a communist leader.  He told me, “Jesus Christ changed my philosophy and made my life a meaningful one.” I was puzzled. Here I was, trying to ‘save’ my people from the clutches of Christianity, faced with two fellows who claimed to have met Christ.  Also they possessed what I did not have and what I was desperately seeking!!! And they kept after me, even though I tried to avoid them like the plague.

My active involvement in RSS and other socio-religious activities did not make me happy. I was getting more miserable day by day. So one of my relatives took me to a psychiatrist.  My Problem was beyond the reach of psychiatrists.

One day, I happened to be in my doctor friend’s room.  He was, as usual, telling me about Jesus Christ and how Christ was helping him in his life.  Not realizing why I did so, suddenly I said in my heart,  “Jesus, I do not know you.  I really do not believe you are a god.  For gods cannot be killed.  But if you are the true God, change me. Now. Not when I am sixty years old, but right now.  Give me peace. Reveal yourself to me. If you do that, then, I will  give my life to you as I wanted to give to the RSS.”

A little later when I left that room I found myself strangely different.  The questions that had been tormenting me had vanished.  My fears were gone.  I felt a remarkable calmness.  I had a new realization that Jesus was real and He was my God.  The hold my habits had on me, which I had been trying to break for months, was gone.  Instantly. I had no more craving for drugs or any such thing. My faith in the gods and goddesses I had worshipped vanished and in my heart, a strong and pleasant realization that Jesus is the true Lord and God of this world.  Christ alone is my Lord and my Savior.

My parents and relatives could not accept this change in me.  Can a high caste Hindu join this low-caste religion?  They soon found that they could not turn me from my lunatic ways so they became quite hostile towards me and disowned me.  It was a difficult experience. I felt that I should move to another town.  Also I thought that God wanted me to serve Him.

Within weeks of my coming to Christ, the Lord led me and ‘entrusted’ me to man a missionary from the United States of America.  He became my guru.  Since then, until his death, he has been my mentor, a ‘Paul’ to a ‘Timothy’.

The Lord has given me a very good wife; she is a committed Christian and has a definite call to serve God. We also have two wonderful children.

Our Life Under the Sun

Our Life under the sunFrom one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:26-27

King Solomon said … then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun (on Earth). Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it. Ecclesiastes 8:17

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Ecclesiastes 5:18

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:9

For while we are in this tent, (our human bodies) we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, (immortality/eternal life) so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:4-5

Thank you God, AMEN!!!

www.nuggetsofwisdom.us … spread the Word

I am not alone

 

I wish you were alive and still on this earth Lord so that I could be with you in the flesh. I need you to comfort me with real arms and wipe the tears of my past away. Help me put away the anguish and pain that follows me like a cloud. I know you are in my heart loving me as a father to a daughter who has lost every hope of a future with someone. I think who would want my highly sensitive person and the complicated past. Only you Lord want me. Only you Lord will love unconditionally. Only you will fight my battles. Only you will go before me. Help me Lord to forgive and leave my memories of my predators to you and the cross. Let me not lose the person you have created me to be. My Lord is my help and shield in time of trouble. I will trust that he has my best interest at heart as He takes me through the valley of the shadow of death; for He is with me. The Lord prepares a table before my enemies (predators). He anoints my head with oil my cup overflows; surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

Sometimes I forget who I am when my past and the words of my attackers visit me the darkest times of my life. Those words that Satan whisper’s in my ear send me to another place and the visit is cruel. Why do I listen? I am no longer a victim but a overcomer. I had already healed from these words but new memories have surface and new faces and they have made me stumble because they are family. I had an inkling of the one but without the face in the memory I didn’t want to go there; but now it has been revealed as so.

The Lord has been good to me and bringing these memories He knew I would stand strong in Him. I would not forget what the Lord has already done for me. The Lord has been everything to me. He has protected, provided, and my warrior when I needed Him to fight my battles. But, the scope of the memories and people has broadsided me. The human body can withstand much punishment but I believe that my Lord was with me through my ordeals. My tiny fingers were held by my creator and as my fingers grew He was still there waiting patiently for me to cry out to Him for help. I was very angry child and adult and I took it inward. But, my Father in heaven reached out and drew me out and gave me a voice. My voice sets up my boundaries, calls to God for help, seeks good friendships, prays for others, reads out loud the Bible, my voice speaks truth, and my voice sings praises to a loving and forgiving God.

When drawn to the dark side it’s because I forget who I am. We need to help ourselves to remember who we are. I am a daughter of King. (John 1:12) I was adopted when I asked Jesus into my life. (Ephesians 1:5) I am born of God; the evil one cannot touch me. (1John 5:18) I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) Satan will do everything he can to distract and kill your soul. Do not let Satan in. Greater is He who is in you then he that is in the world. (1John 4:4) If your spirit acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that doesn’t acknowledge that Jesus Christ is not from God. (1John 4:2-3) We need to test our friends and boyfriends because many will deceive you into thinking they know the Christ; when truly they do not and they will rob you of your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Fight for your relationship with Jesus Christ when you are going through deep sorrow. Do not allow family, friends, and boyfriends to say you are making things up. Go to Jesus Christ and a trusted friend to pray with you through your hard times. Find a Christian Counselor who will speak truth and pray that the Lord will use them in your life. Do not feel that you are alone because Jesus will go before you and make a way. Do not be press into staying busy because you are suppressing everything down and not facing it. This is not going away if you do not face it; and the Lord only gives us what we can handle for the day.

Songs have helped me to grieve my lost. You know those songs and movies that will give a voice to your pain use them. Read the Bible for those scriptures that bring strength, trust, love, and deliverance. Neil T. Anderson, “The Bondage Breaker” will help you let go and forgive. Be nice to yourself, rest, and pamper yourself. This life is hard but it will get easier if you do not take this life out on yourself. Do not beat yourself up we have all fallen short of the glory of God; we are all not perfect. (Romans 3:23) Do not blame yourself give it to the Lord. I have a cross in my heart where I carve the names, sins, and the offenses committed on me. Why? It’s a reminder that I have already given it to Jesus, and that cross reminds me that Jesus died for ever sin, disease and offense.

God loved me so much that He sent His One, Only Son Jesus Christ came down to earth to be born and to die on a cross of wood. Jesus carried all our past, present and future sins, diseases and our sorrows on Him Self for us. I do not need to carry all my gruesome past memories anymore I can give them to Jesus and He can then change my dirty, filthy garment into a white robe that is washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you are still carrying the past memories and they continue to bring hate and destruction. You do not need to take them any further because I know a man who was dearly loved by His father. This man took on the task because He knew we couldn’t make it on our own. We would keep feeding this sin against us and it wouldn’t make us happy. This man wants us to remember good memories and not bad. He wants us to live a life-like no one else. That is why Jesus Christ took the beating that stripped his back to the bone, he endured the shame of his clothes being taken from Him, and He endured mocking and more beating, and then the walk with the cross on His back that was stripped of skin. Jesus walked that walk for us. They nailed His hands and feet and HE was all alone as He faced the end. God had abandoned His Son because of sin. God couldn’t look on sin because He was pure. So, His Son had to endure the pain of the cross all alone. Jesus Christ died, and on the third day rose to be seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. Because Jesus Christ endured the cross alone He doesn’t want ANY of us to endure loneliness and hardship. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts but cling to His every word that He loves you and is calling you to come home. Believe that He came in the flesh so that He could die for us. Repent of holding on to the sins that were against you. Give them to Jesus and He will cleanse you. Ask Him into your hearts and take a step forward in your healing process.

Thank you, Father for your undying love for me. Thank you, for not letting go of my hand. Thank you for writing your name on my heart. Thank you, that I am not alone. I pray you will keep healing our hearts that we will not be afraid to seek help. Help us to find our voice and use it for you. Let us make new memories with you. I pray that you will bring back what the locust took from us and you will bless us with new hopes and dreams.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Ephesians 3:14-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple’s latest watch – God’s deep knowledge

… it’s all about YOU!

Apple Watch - God's Knowledge

The idea of “being watched” by a compassionate God is not new. As Christians, every Sunday we rightly sing of God’s care and invite his watchfulness. Not everything will go our way; there may be days, years through which we feel afflicted, and yet we trust the God who knows us and watches us – at our best as well as our worst.

“You have looked deep into my heart, Lord
and you know all about me”
                       Psalm 139,v1

But “being watched” is also an increasing trend in modern living. Every time you shop online – someone is watching. Your purchase is noticed so you can be targeted with ads, “recommendations” you are likely to respond to.

“You discover my thoughts …
You notice everything I do
and everywhere I go”
                    Psalm 139,v2-3

Online Shopping

Every time you casually search for stuff on the web – it gets recorded. That’s why you get those ads that “follow you around” based on stuff you once searched for, and importantly, stuff you might search for before you’ve even thought of it.

“…Before I even speak a word,
you know what I will say”                 Psalm 139,v4

Today of course we are highly mobile. Your phone or tablet is a sophisticated tracking device that let’s trackers know exactly where you have been, when you were there, and of course where you are now.

“You know all about me.
You know when I am resting
and when I am working”                              Psalm 139,v2

How Much Are You Worth?

Information about you is worth cash and advertisers will pay. Using a calculator published in the Financial Times, if you are looking for a new car your personal/contact details are sold for 0.2 cents. If you are pregnant or looking for a new house however you are worth more – your personal details are sold for a huge 8.5 cents. Once you are sold, you start getting not just online ads, but those cold calls as well.

Essentially, your mobile phone and your PC are an efficient “store card,” quietly collecting a vast array of information about you, your likes and dislikes, likely income, the family and friends you buy for, what you search for, and of course, if you are pregnant or house-hunting.

Fingerprint

Of course there are benefits. As consumers, finding exactly what we want is getting harder, there is always more out there to look at. Too much information about too many products with too little time to look is a feature of our culture.

Watches and Wearables

This is why I have concerns at the emerging “wearable technology”, highlighted by the launch of Apple’s Watch. Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of gadgets and tech. – and, to be fair, technology has paid my salary for 25+ years. But it’s the creeping intrusion of data-collection into our lives that bothers me, and there seems to be no real public discussion on this.

Some examples: Apple and IBM have teamed up to collect health monitoring data from Apple Watches – “Apple Healthkit”. Of course this uploading of calories burned, heartrates and cholesterol levels could bring huge personal benefits and enhance medical research, but improper use of personal data certainly happens. Last week I heard a news item of people being cold-called with “offers” because they had received a hip replacement. How did the cold calling company know this? Another article I read explained how supermarkets that run insurance companies are tracking shopping habits to offer discounts to customers they consider to be less risky, (….oops so no more Walkers Sensations and cans of Boddies).

Of course we can choose to opt out of marketing but this is increasingly difficult. Who has time to read lengthy on-screen agreements? We just click “Agree” right? And only this week I purchased a train-ticket online. I had to scrutinise the small-print, tick 3 boxes and “untick” another box just to say “I DON’T WANT ADS!!” I only wanted to go to Nottingham. Be especially careful with those boxes that: “…pass your details on to carefully selected partners….

Online shopping

Technology has become mobile, so we take it with us. We are approaching what they call the “internet of things” including connected cars, fridges, smoke-alarms and numerous household items eg I recently noticed, Samsung’s SmartTV which is voice activated and uploads audible voice to third parties. And so technology becomes wearable. Wearable tech. is capable of knowing facts about us that we don’t know ourselves. Our health, our habits, and our bad habits, all become fair-game.

God’s Deep Knowledge

“Where could I go to escape? …
Nothing about me is hidden from you!”            Psalm 139,v7,15

Of course Psalm 139 isn’t about the Apple Watch, it’s about God’s “big data”. He only uses my information for my ultimate benefit, which He determines, He doesn’t use it to tempt me with offers, and he never passes it on to carefully selected third parties. Halleluiah!

I guess instead of armchair shopping, we could choose to go to the store and pay in cash with no loyalty points. But for most of us, that’s a tough call. In the battle of privacy versus convenience, it seems convenience wins, every time.

peopleandphones

Footnotes

  1. Quotations are from Psalm 139, Contemporary English Version, were taken selectively, and deliberately.
  2. “Big data” is the rise of colossal computing power, running on thousands of servers remotely located, “in the cloud”. These scan trillions of consumer transactions per second and are constantly fed with data coming in over superfast broadband connections to produce meaningful consumer intelligence – and targeted ads. The best known commercial big-data service is probably Amazon Web Services.

          “I can’t understand all of this!
           Such wonderful knowledge
           is far above me”!                                             Psalm 139,v6

Chris Goswami is Director of Marketing for a Silicon Valley based company and a Minister In Training in the UK Baptist Church. His personal site is www.7minutes.net.

Choose to walk with God

Choose to walk with GodYour word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Psalm 119:89-90

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

“To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. Choose my instruction instead of silver knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. Proverbs 8:4-5, 10-11, 17

In the way of righteousness (being right with God, through Jesus our Lord) there is life; along that path is immortality. Proverbs 12:28

Jesus said, You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, John 5:39

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Proverbs 2:6, 10

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

AMEN!!!

God’s Grace is more than Enough

God's grace is more than enoughPraise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  1 Peter 1:3-4

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11

AMEN!!!

A Tale of Two T-shirts

107_3634If you can think of it, design it, and put it in a .jpg file, you can put it onto a t-shirt.

This past week, I saw two t-shirts that caught my attention

One said, “PARTY, SLEEP, REPEAT.” It is a sad mantra of many. I say, “sad,” because it does not bring true happiness, joy, and contentment. Sure, it sounds like a fun lifestyle and probably is for a while, but in the long run, it is emptiness. There is always the search for the better party, the greater high, the better sex, the more outrageous behavior. Last night’s fun has to be exceeded.

The Bible in Hebrews 11:25 says there is pleasure in sin, but only for a season. In James 1:15, the author warns us that when sin is completed, it brings death.

But who cares what the Bible says? It’s an outdated book that has no relevance today! Those are arguments I hear all too often. Maybe the Bible has more relevance than you think.

This lifestyle of party-sleep-repeat has serious consequences – drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, auto accidents, and an empty pocketbook. In some cases, it puts those who participate in contact with rapists, thieves, and murderers.

It’s always distressing to watch the news and see the heartache of family and friends of someone who was killed in a car wreck or murdered after attending a late night party. It is hard to watch a mother cry as she talks about her virgin daughter who had a drug slipped in her drink and then date-raped. It is all too sad and all too frequent.

I saw another t-shirt. It said, “I am loved.” What a great message! Love that is offered and received is a wonderfully, fulfilling thing. It brings peace, joy, contentment, and fulfillment.

That’s what God offers you through His Son Jesus. For God so loved the world – and that includes you – that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believe in Him shall have eternal life.

In a way, God wants to give you a t-shirt that says, “I am loved.” It’s free to you because it’s a gift. You don’t get it automatically. You have to accept it.

When you accept God’s gift, you become one of His children, you will go to heaven when you die, and you will live with Him forever. In heaven, there will be no more death, no more pain, no more suffering, no more sickness, and no more sorrow.

God’s Incredible Gift…

God's incredible giftYou know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Acts 10:36

Therefore, since we have been justified (made right with God) through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God Romans 5:1-2

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, (self-righteousness) so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28

AMEN!!!

Is the Bible true? – 3 things you need to know

Is the Bible true – literally true? At a talk I once attended by theologian Tim Hull, he made it simple. He said the Bible is like your town library. If you were to stand in the middle of your town library and say: “is this library true?” ….. well suddenly the question sounds unclear, even pointless.

BibleQuoteOf course the Bible is also a library, a collection of 66 individual books, written over many centuries and situations. We trust its author but question its contents. Some questions I have come across recently include:

  • If Adam and Eve were the first family who did their children marry?
  • Why do the Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection differ?
  • Should women be silent in church?
  • Are the numbers and time-periods in Revelation literally true?

The-British-Library

Three facts will help us appreciate the splendid truths of the Bible:

1st – There are different kinds of truth

Let’s return to the library idea. In one corner of the library you may have books of history and yes they are true in that the kings and reigns they describe happened. But on another shelf there are books of poetry… ‘Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women(Song of Solomon 2). That is a kind of “truth” but different, poems are not literally true. Similarly in another room there may be books of Proverbs – wisdom that helps us to navigate our world …. ‘Even a fool is thought wise if he remains silent, discerning if he holds his tongue!(Proverbs 17) is a favourite of mine.  Another kind of truth.

Truths

Pythagoras theorem is true, the Bible is true, and love can be true.
All true – all different

Moreover, in several books of the Bible we will find accounts that are not “true” but have truth within them. Jesus’ parables were obviously made up but for everyone who wants to hear, there are values to live by in these stories of farmers, lost coins, and houses built on sand. And Jesus sometimes used flagrant exaggeration to make a point memorable eg ‘if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out(Matthew 18) – tells us to go to great lengths to avoid temptation, but it is not an instruction.

2nd Some parts of the Bible were never meant to be “true” …
…they record accounts of human faults as warnings, lessons..

Just because something is in the Bible, clearly stated, doesn’t mean it’s for us to follow. Some parts of the Bible are provided as “counter-instruction” ie “don’t do what this person did” Chris Sinkinson explains that “much of the Old Testament is descriptive but not prescriptive”. God does not want us to follow these behaviours, eg the murder and adultery committed by David or the conclusion in Ecclesiastes that ‘life Is meaningless’. But perhaps the best example is in the book of Job where much ink is spilt on explanations by Job’s 3 friends as to why God has abandoned Job. They blatantly misrepresent God – God himself enters the story and states this – but their mistaken speeches are still in the Bible.

And 3rd Some truths in the Bible no longer apply to us
We have to distinguish between instruction to the people then, and what God asks us to do in our different time and different world This is the hardest one to get right.

Paul states clearly eg 1 Corinthians 8, that Old Testament rules on food offered to idols and circumcision were true for people then but are no longer binding on Christians.  We can also see that guidance to slaves and slave-masters, which was appropriate to that culture, has no place in our world (Ephesians 6).

A recent example where most of the church is now in agreement, is on affirming the role of women in all church ministries, which appears to contradict some New Testament teaching. However we know that Paul himself had women leaders as far as his culture allowed (eg Romans 16).

Cultural norms versus timeless truths – the two are not the same.

shutterstock_69510376

In Closing

As well as these principles just described, we need to learn from Jesus’ view of scripture.

Church leader Andrew Wilson states “Jesus is the lens through which we need to read and understand scripture”. We are fortunate to be able to look back at Old Testament scriptures “through Jesus” to give them their full meaning. Jesus affirmed scripture but was not afraid to challenge traditional understandings, not afraid to re-interpret scriptures in ways that people had either forgotten or simply never understood … “you have heard that it was said love your friend, hate your enemies, but now I tell you ….” Jesus effectively caused people to question long-held practices and beliefs …. “Go and learn what this means ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice”. The words of Jesus must always be paramount in our study of the Bible.

Jesus - the lens

The Bible is utterly reliable and dependable. It is the story – yes the true story – of God and his people. An unfolding story in which you and I are invited to take our parts.  It is the inspired word of God but God asks us to keep our brains switched on as well as hearts when we approach it…. How else would you handle a two-edged sword? – Hebrews 4.12.

If you enjoyed this blog try these fresh readings of well-known Bible stories: the Good Samaritan Re-considered;  a Modern Day Prodigal; and a Woman Caught in Adultery

Chris Goswami is Director or Marketing for a Silicon Valley based company and a Minister In Training in the UK Baptist Church. His personal site is www.7minutes.net.

God’s Greatest Blessing…

God's greatest blessingYour word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:105 & 130

Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:5-7

Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord (Jesus) gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:3-6

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Proverbs 2:10

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

… to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:25

AMEN!!!

Take One Day at a Time…

Take one day at a time.Consider what God has done: Who can straighten  what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come? As no one has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the time of their death. Ecclesiastes 8:7-8a

Jesus said, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

AMEN!!!

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LORD spoke out of the storm

The first part of the book of Job we find God talking to Satan. God shows Satan there is no one like Job who is blameless and upright. So, God gives Satan permission to test Job without killing him. Satan then, takes from Job all his wealth from camels, donkeys, oxen, servants, and children. In all these things Job did not sin. Eventually the Lord allows Satan to touch the skin of Job; with painful sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. In Job’s suffering three friends come to counsel him to repent because clearly he has sinned.

Job’s friends came over to sympathize and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. (Job 2:11-13)

Now, can you imagine being with your best friends who believe you have sinned because you have lost everything. Now compound it with painful sores all over your body and they come to counselor you. How well would you survive without telling your dear friends to leave? Job in his dialogue to his friends is grieving his lost and wishing he was never born (Job 3:1); actually he curses the day he is born. How, well would we do in the same situation if roles were reverse? Painful sores all over your body or imagine and all day migraine, can you imagine how you would feel about your best friends; thinking they know you best. Memory of my last terrible migraine I pray to the Lord for relief and begged if he could heal me; but then I am a woman in today’s times with Midol. Job lived in the times with natural remedies and traveling doctors I would think. Pain was a natural part of life and you probably grew another heart to deal with family and friends.

Job’s dialogue with his friends took him too many speeches but one speech stuck with me and it was his search for the LORD.

Have you every travel on a road that never got you to where you wanted to go? Each road you took ended as a dead end and you began so frustrated that you just want the day to end.  You’d cried and begged what am I doing wrong Lord?  I’ve gone over and over the directions but I am still lost. What’s the next step? This is a vivid picture of Job’s struggle to get through to the LORD. Job says “If only I knew where to find Him (LORD); if only I could go to His dwelling!” (Job 23:3) Does this sound familiar to you? Have you ever found yourself in Job’s place where everything is falling down and you do not know why? What have I done wrong? The Lord says in His word “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

What we think should be happening is different from what the Lord wants to have happen in our life. You can wrestle with Him over each direction in your life or just give in to His prompting. Job’s life is critical and going forward he began to seek God in a real way instead of just following the rules or laws of the land.

In my life right now if I do not hear from the Lord I seek Him with all my heart, soul and mind I do not settle for less. Many in the Bible also sought the LORD when they needed Him.

King David cried out to the Lord in his state of need in Psalms.

O God, you are my God. At dawn I search for you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry, parched land where there is no water. ((Psalms 63:1)

Job cries from his very soul “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling. But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him.” (Job 23:3, 8)

Wisdom tells us: I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17)

The LORD says of captives of sin: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jesus Christ sought His Father in the garden for help with His mission. (John 17:1-5)

What do these verses have in common? They all have a personal longing to know God in the most intimate form. For why would we seek if it is not to connect to something more powerful them us. The scriptures point us to a relationship with God. David and Job are seeking with all their heart to know God in an intimate union. They are both looking to God for their deliverance instead of themselves. Job was powerful and had all he needed and when he lost everything, he sought God but he did not know where to find Him. When we lose everything do we know the way to the throne of God? Do we need a road map to get there?

The word says “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ (2Chronicles 7:14)

Job was seeking audience with the LORD: “When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.” (Job 23:9)

The LORD is listening to Job for He has a reply.

For Job the LORD spoke out of the storm “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I lay the earth’s foundations? Tell me, if you understand…” (Job 38)

When we are seeking the Lord in our pain we say things that come out of frustration and ignorance. God doesn’t mention Job’s lost because God is directing Job to His redemptive plan. “Where were you when I lay the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4) Job had no answers for God. Job listens on: “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? So you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return… (Job 39) Here God was showing our human limitations in this world to His omnipotent and all-knowing presence in our lives. Job sees that God is faithful in taking care of us and is humbled. God continues to draw Job “will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!”

Then Job answered the LORD:

“I am unworthy ⎯ how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer ⎯ twice, but I will say no more.”

Job decided not to hold on to his belief that God has wronged him. “Know that God has wronged me and drawn His net around me… (Job 19:6-21)

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:

“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your right hand can save you. (Job 40:1-14)

God continues His argument that Job is only human and cannot save him or others. We are not spiritual beings that have magical powers to predict and conquer others on our own. God drew Job to show his mercy and grace. God’s love drew Job to find Him and listen to God’s truths in creation.

“Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God, yet His Maker can approach him with His sword…Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?” (Job 40:15-24)

Who could possibly fight a behemoth which some say is a hippopotamus. Could we subdue such a creature on our own? No, then how can we assume that are right hand is like God’s; we can’t do anything without the Lord. We must trust the Lord that He knows what is best for us.

God continues to speak to Job in chapter 41 and Job replies in chapter 42 to the LORD:

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)

Job comes before the LORD humbled by God’s words and for the first time really sees God as a formidable adversary to have on his side. God draws Job and Job believes that God is all powerful and then he repents. Not only does he repent but he is given an opportunity to pray for his friends who gave wrong counsel. Job prays for his friends and then offers burnt sacrifices on their behalf. The LORD blesses the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. (Job 42)

Would you like to be a blessed people who through your struggles become victorious?

First see that we are a fallen people who through Adam and Eve were given the curse of sin that keeps us from finding (communion) with the Lord. God in His infinite wisdom devised a plan that would cancel our debt of sin. God sent His One and Only Son to earth to be born of a virgin so that He could grow up among us and then go and die on a cross carrying all our sins. Jesus Christ death and resurrection nullifies our sin and sets us free. The word says “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) When you believe in the Lord the Lord will draw you to himself. You will begin to thirst and hunger for the word and through the scriptures the Lord will convict your heart of sin. Repentance will bring you into the throne room of God and there you will find the Lord and communion with Him.

Thank you, Lord that Job humbled himself before and Almighty God and found forgiveness. Thank you, Father that you drew Job to yourself and offered him mercy and grace instead of wrath. Thank you, Jesus Christ that your life represents hope and freedom from sin and opens the door to communication.

I pray for the unbelievers who do not call you ‘daddy’ who continue to withhold themselves from you; and say that their ‘arm is stronger’. I pray that you will have your way in their lives as you did with Job to bring them to submission under your authority. I pray that they, who have heard about you, will also see your overwhelming presence in their life. Make them lie down in green pastures; make them thirst and hungry for righteousness; and create in them a clean heart O God and renew a steadfast spirit within them. Do not cast them away from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from them. But, restore them, draw them and place within each heart a willingness to serve you. In Jesus Christ name; I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eyes That See…

Eyes that seeHe (God) said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed (saved).” Isaiah 6:9-10

Jesus said,  For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:15-16

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. Luke 10:22-23

Paul writes, For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

AMEN!!!

God is Our Strength…

God is our strengthPaul writes, Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. 

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:6-10

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day (by the living Word of God). For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

AMEN!!!

*** Please pray with me for the healing of my dear friend Mary Stephens from “Right From The Heart Ministries”, Thank you! ***