Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blessed - Psalm 32

Milkweed pod

Blessed Are the Forgiven

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 32


This Psalm is the second psalm to begin with blessed. The Hebrew word for blessed is eser which means happy. In both psalm 1 and psalm 32, it is is saying: how happy! Spurgeon says that Psalm 1 pictures a tree in full growth, while Psalm 32 depicts the tree in its first planting and watering. We cannot ever be the excellent law keeper described in Psalm 1. We can, however, by the free grace of God through Christ, be a forgiven lawbreaker.

 Psalm 32 was probably David's response to his affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11). In the first two verses of the Psalm 32, David tells of the blessings of forgiveness. In this psalm King David praises God for forgiveness of sin. He warns others not to refuse to confess their sins.

In the next two verses David tells of the agony he faced before he confessed his sins to God. If one tries to hide, or cover up a sin he will never find happiness. One must confess his sin to God and ask for forgiveness.God will then cover it with the blood of Christ. It is not for a sinner to cover their sin and try to hide it.  Proverbs 28:13  David's stubborn resistance to admitting his guilt separated him from God. No matter what the sin is, no matter who else is hurt, any sin is first and formost an offense  to God.  The forgiveness of sin does not eliminate the consequences of the sin, but will restore you relationship with God. 

David then tell us to offer prayer to Him when He can be found. David tell us not to wait forever to confess our sin. Don't be foolish.  Go to God now.  Once your sins are confessed to God you will discover that God is a hiding place. God will be your place to go for protection.

Romans 4:6-8 tells us that when God forgives sins He does not "charge" them to our accounts; they are removed from the record. God will never bring them up again.  Knowing that we  promise of God will give us joy and happiness. When a child of God truly repents and confesses sin, the Lord forgives because He has promised to do so.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:8-12

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Psalm 1 - The Right Path

maple leaves

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost - The Road Not Taken - last stanza

How blessed is the man 
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, 
Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, 
And in His law he meditates day and night. 
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, 
Which yields its fruit in its season 
And its leaf does not wither; 
And in whatever he does, he prospers. 
The wicked are not so, 
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, 
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, 
But the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1:1-6    

I think I loved hearing the Psalms from the first time I heard them.  When I was rather young I thought I would learn Hebrew so that I could enjoy them even more. I thought they would be even more fantastic when spoken in their original language. I thought the original language would bring out the rhyme and the rhythm.  Then I discovered that the psalms never had rhyme or a rhythmic meter.  The psalms use parallelism, figurative expression, and beautiful word pictures for their text.  what an amazing and wonderful gift of God. God inspired the writers of the psalms to write them in a way that is beautiful in any language.

The book of Psalms is actually a combination of five books of songs. Some are songs are quite similar. This could simply be because they were well liked songs. Just as some popular hymns and worship songs today appear in more hymnal, some psalms appeared in more than one book of songs.

Book I (Ps 1-41)
Book II (Ps 42-72)
Book III (Ps 73-89)
Book IV (Ps 90-106)
Book V (Ps 107-150)

You can tell when you are at the end of one of the five books in the Psalms - the final verse of the last psalm in the book ends with Amen and amen.

The first psalm in the first book of psalms— is the one we will look at now.

Psalm 1 sets the tone for the entire five books of Psalms. Psalm 1 is a wisdom Psalm.  It describes the type of person who reads and uses the Law. It contrasts this righteous person against unbelievers who ignore the words of the Bible. It is also a Psalm of blessing. Blessed - 'Ashrey - which means happiness, or blessedness. 'Ashrey occurs twenty-six times in the books of Psalms.  It is translated "blessed" nineteen times, and "happy" seven times. There is happiness in knowing that one is right with God. The first psalm in the Old Testament book of Psalm begins with a beatitude. The last psalm in the first book of Psalms also begins with a beatitude.   Psalm 41  One of my commentaries states that there are 6 psalms that start with the word blessed.  Thus far, I have found only five.  Psalm 112  has a  Hallelujah a the first word and it is followed with a Blessed for the second word. (There are three psalms that start with Hallelujah.  (We may have the opportunity to look at them later).

Psalm 1:1 Amplified Bible  BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.  The psalm starts with a negative. Blessed is the man who does not walk, stand or sit with those who are wicked, sinners or scoffers.

John Piper adds that the Hebrew word 'esher or 'Ashrey means happy in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical well being.
Spurgeon so expresses blessed in the plural Oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!

There is joy and contentment in following God. One who follows Him will avoid social association with the wicked. Spurgeon writes, Those that trust in Him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. 

Psalm 1:2  Meditate - Meditation involves studying a passage of scripture, memorizing it, praying about it and urging oneself to practice it.

Psalm 1:3  A believer is like a tree planted beside the waters.

It will bring forth fruit. Whatever he does will prosper - this is qualified by the context of the psalm to mean - whatever he does in regards to mediation on the scripture and living in obedience, he will bring forth the fruit of that study.

The eloquent Spurgeon writes: In context, the psalmist expands the meaning of blessed in Psalm 1, explaining in picture language that the blessed man is like a tree by water, a striking image in an arid land where water is sparse and greatly valued. And thus planted by the precious water (and not a stagnant pool but a stream of flowing water!). And too the blessing is pictured as like a tree that is fruitful in season with an unwithering leaf. And such a one prospers in all he does. He is blessed indeed! And finally the psalmist goes on to explain the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of being known by Jehovah and the privilege of standing in the assembly of the righteous of all the ages. The blessed man is stabilized in the storms by these truths regarding his present and his future.
The tree that David may be thinking of is the oleander tree.  It is a tree that is common to that area, it only grows near the water.

Psalm 1:4-6  Wickedrāšāʿ – An adjective meaning wicked, guilty, in the wrong, criminal, transgressor). This person may appear to be to be a good person, but they are capable of great evil. They are compared to chaff.  In the process of winnowing the husk of wheat was thrown into the air. The heaver grain would fall to the ground, but the lighter chaff was blow away by the wind.  This is a scriptural image of the wicked being unable to resist God's judgement.   Matthew 3:12   Psalm 35:5  One must remember that this wicked person is not necessarily an ominous, vicious,  horrible murdering criminal. It is all who are outside of Jesus Christ. Every man is ungodly.  No person without Christ.  can meet the requirements of God.  We are either saved, or unsaved. 
There really only two ways to live, two paths to take. One either follows God or he does not. Those who follow the road that God has commanded will rejoice in the happiness knowing they are following God. Those who do not follow God may enjoy temporary prosperity, but eventually, however, they will suffer sorrow and destruction for eternity.  

Now that is the end of the opening song of the book of Psalms. Psalm 1 is finished.  I could stop there –– but there is more, much more.  In the greater context of the entire Bible there is more to the story. No one, can always stay on that path. It just isn't possible for mankind. We are all sinners.  We are all doomed to go down the wrong path. We have no hope of always staying on right path. We will stray.  We can only expect the deserved wrath of God. Only by the grace of God can we escape being blown away like the chaff. You must surrender to Christ.  Then, by grace alone, by faith alone through Christ alone will you escape the judgement of the wicked. You will still sin and stray from the path but Christ has given us hope.  

As reminded in the final verse of The Road Less Traveled, by Robert Frost. There are but two roads to take. Choosing the right path will make all the difference.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wonderful Grace

Sempervivim blossom

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
 2 Corinthians 8:9 

Instead He emptied Himself  by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.  And when He had come as a man 
in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 

Philippians 2:7–8

Jesus is the second person of the Trinity.  He existed from the beginning. He is owner creator and author of everything. He stepped down from the throne of heaven, to become a man. In doing so He gave up all of His privileges and wealth as King of the Universe.

Consider what He gave up when He left heaven and took on a human body:

  • He left His Father, God. He would not enjoy the Father's immediate presence for more than 30 years. 
  • He left behind the angelic hosts who were worshiping Him, glorifying Him. 
  • He left a behind a heavenly home that far exceeded in splendor, majesty, and comfort of anything on earth. 
  • He left His pre-incarnate existence in the form of God, without limitations, to take on a physical body subject to fatigue, aches, and pains.
He left all of that glory and honor behind for those who would reject him. In an act of gratuitous love He became poor that we might be rich in heavenly riches. He emptied Himself of His previous heavenly glory for our sake. He took on human form, and gave His life for us. He suffered and died on a cross like a common criminal for us.

As believers we become rich through the sacrifice and willing poverty of Christ. We receive eternal life. We actually become joint heirs with Christ.  Romans 8:17  We receive the riches of heavenly glory which are His riches given to us.

He gave up so much for us – What shall we give for him?

The breeze of divine grace is blowing upon us all. But one needs to set the sail to feel this breeze of grace.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Forgiveness of Joseph

another viole2

 Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on
the heel that crushes it.
Mark Twain

I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 45:5-8

The story of Joseph is one of my favorites. Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob. His mother was Rachel, the wife whom Jacob loved. Rachel had been barren for many years. Jacob's ( yôsēp̱, yĕhôsēp̱) name means either remover (God has taken away) or increaser (may he add). Upon his birth, Rachel may have given Joseph his name for either - God has taken away my barrenness or may the Lord add to me another son.

Jacob's family was anything but your model family. Joseph was the child most loved and favored by his father. His father even gave Joseph a special long coat. This favoritism caused his 10 half brothers and his one full brother to hate him. At age 17 Joseph had two dreams that predicted that his brothers would bow down to him. The brothers hearing these dreams, plotted to murder Joseph.

The oldest brother, Reuben, did not want Joseph to die. He suggested to throw Joseph into a cistern, hoping to rescure him later. The brothers stripped Joseph of his special robe and threw him into the cistern. A caravan of Ishmaelites passed by carrying spices and perfumes to Egypt. Hoping to gain money and still be rid of Joseph, they sold Joseph to the traders for twenty pieces of silver. The brothers placed goat blood on the torn robe and convinced their father Jacob that Joseph  deahad been killed.

In God's plan for Joseph this was not his end, but the beginning of the saving of the nation of Israel. You probably know the whole story, but it is still quite worth reading again. ( Genesis chapters 37 to 50 ). The amazing story continues, all according to the plans of God. Joseph eventually becomes the number two man in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Joseph saves his family from death by starvation due to a seven-year famine. Jacob's family is the nation of Israel. The entire family moves to Egypt establishing Israel as a remnant in the land. The Israelites increase in number. Pharaoh plots to eliminate the Israelites. Moses leads them out of Egypt. God's long ago promise to Abraham continues to become a reality.

The focus of this blog is both on the providence of our sovereign God, as well as the forgiveness of Joseph. The grace of God working in Joseph is evident in the way he dealt with his brothers. God put Joseph in a position to save his brothers. Joseph did not seek revenge on his brothers. He forgave them. Joseph realized that his personal suffering was the way God planned to preserve his family. Joseph was aware that his rise to power in Egypt was not for his personal glory, but for the glory of God. Joseph told his brothers not to worry and not to be angry at themselves. He told his brothers three times that it was not them who had sent him to Egypt — it was God.

Joseph had a remarkably tough life. He was threatened murder by his brothers. He was sold into slavery. He was thrown into prison for a trumped up charge of molestation or rape. Surely he must  of asked himself: Why did this happen to me? Where was God when all this happened?" Joseph, however knew that God was being glorified. God was there all along. God was working things out according to His purpose.

Joseph rose to tremendous power in Egypt. Now he finally gets the treatment he deserves. Right! Look who shows up kneeling before him. It is his devious, jealous brothers. And they need something from him. He must have thought, "Why should I give them anything, why show them any mercy. Look at all the suffering they caused me" It was the perfect time for him to get even. Joseph chose to forgive not to seek revenge. Joseph said, "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good." Genesis 50:20

I am amazed and humbled by Joseph's response to his circumstances. Would I have the ability and courage to do as he did – probably not. During this challenge for Joseph there was no family to turn to for help. There was no Bible to read, no pastor to advise and council, no church to support him. Joseph, however knew that God had a purpose for him. He knew that God was sovereign and had a plan. God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Genesis 45:7 Praise God for His grace and salvation.

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. 
C. S. Lewis

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do Not Fear - I Am Always With You

Barn and bright tree

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

For such is God, 
Our God forever and ever; 
He will guide us until death. 
Psalm 48:14

Do not fear, for I am with you; 
do not be afraid, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you; I will help you; 
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. 
Isaiah 41:10

In a pastoral community the “shepherd” would be recognized as one who serves as a leader, companion, guide, and provider. The shepherd used the “rod” as a weapon of defense to drive off beasts of prey it provides protection. The “staff” to lean upon as well as to guide straying sheep and thereby provides guidance.

God chose the Israelites to represent Him to the world. The Israelites failed in this task. Today the believers in Christ are commanded to represent God to the world. Christians are to spread the gospel – the good news. God has established a relationship with  those who belong to Him. We need not fear God is with us. If Christ is your Savior: God will strengthen you, help and guide you.  He will hold you with His right hand. Dear Christian do not fear, God will be with you in all circumstances now and forever. He will guide you until death, and you will dwell with him forever. Through Christ we have victory over sin and death.

We must, in the shadow of death, have forced ourselves not to look back to the past, but to seek in utter darkness the dawn of God.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

A soldier who had been through a long campaign once declared the order to “close up the ranks” drove away from him all sickening fear in entering on the battle, for the touch of other men at his elbows made him feel he was one of a vast host, and thus the sense of individual peril was forgotten. Christ’s “Fear thou not, for I am with thee”, is just such an elbow-touch to our souls; and we reply, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me”.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Binomial nomenclature

Butter and Eggs

This flower is butter and eggs, it is also called yellow toadflax Linaria vulgaris. It is yellow with a spot of orange - it supposedly grows to 3 feet tall, but I have seldom seen it reach to even 1 foot. It flowers from late May into early October. It is an escape from gardens and is not native to the United States. It is native to the Mediterranean region of Eurasia. It is named to honor Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), the Swedish botanist, who devised the modern system of binomial nomenclature.

Binomial nomenclature is used to give a "scientific name" to plants and later to animals as well.  It consists of two names, making it much like the naming of people today.  The first part of the name is the identifies the genus. The second part of the name, identifies the species within the genus.  One would think that being a scientific name it would tell you something about the plant, but it doesn't.  Linnaeus's trivial names introduced an important new idea. The function of a name could simply be to give a species a unique label. The plant's name could be descriptive of the plant, but does not need to be. Both parts of the name could be derived from the names of people, places or anything at all.

While there may be several advantages of the binomial name, the most important is a unique label specific to each plant.  It makes no difference what the common name of the plant may be, or how many different names it is known by, the binomial name is its official name. A plant, like the one pictured above is called by at least two common names, but it has only one specific binomial name.  This allows scientists and plant enthusiasts to know exactly what plant they are referring to when using that name.

Dr. Charley King, my botany and ecology professor, was a fan of binomial nomenclature.  He found it quite a benefit when talking about a specific plant to students, scientists and professors from other countries. As his students, we required to learn the binomial names for all of the we studied. There were a couple of names I thought were quite memorable: Liquidambar styraciflua, and Metasequoia glyptostroboides. I thought of working them into names for our two children, but for some reason my wife thought that was not very appropriate.

Even though Charley thought the binomial names were appropriate for identification, he said that was their only purpose.  The names were just a "handle."  Just because you knew their name, did not mean you know the plant.  We were told to look closely at the plants. "Put your eyes at the ends of your fingers" – get close to the plants, touch them, observe them, smell them.  Learn to know where they grow, how they grow, what they like, what they don't like, do they flower, do they have seeds, how are the seeds dispersed, and on and on.  Placing a name on something does not mean that you know it.  It is just a label.

Once again we see that the biblical way to name a person, place or thing is much more meaningful:

A few names of places:

 Jacob wrestles with God...Jacob then named the place Peniel,  “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “and I have been delivered.”   Genesis 32:20 

So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.  Genesis 35:15 - Bethel means House of God

So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord.  Exodus 17:7  Massah means testing, Meribah means arguing.

So that place was named Taberah,   because the Lord’s fire had blazed among them.    Numbers 11:3  Taberah means blaze.

David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. 2 Samuel 6:8   Perez-uzzah means - outburst against Uzzah or breach of Uzzah

Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son as commanded by God but that was never God's intention so He intervenes...
Abraham looked up and saw a ram  caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.  And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide,  so today it is said: “It will be provided  on the Lord’s mountain.”  Genesis 22:14  Yahweh-Yireh (one of the many names for God - God the provider)

There are numerous names for our God in the Bible.  Each name concentrates on individual characteristics of God.  I hope we can look at them some time in the future.

I hope that this brief look at the naming of people and places in the Bible will encourage you to look more closely at the names. It can be quite exciting to look up the meaning or reason for the names you come across in your daily reading of the Bible.  There may not always be a special meaning or purpose for the names, but do not be surprised if there is. Those names reinforce the fact of the sovereignty of our God. Remember God knew them and us before we were born.  He could name us because he knew us.  Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. Psalm 139:16

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More about names - Shakespeare wrong?

Yellow Rose
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
William Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet are two lovers from opposite warring families. They are doomed from the start. In these two lines Juliet tell Romeo that a name is meaningless and artificial. She loves the person who is labeled "Montague." His name and his family name is just a convention.
In the previous blog we discovered that in the Bible, a name is often much more than a label. It often gives a great deal of information about a person or a place. A name could tell of the circumstances of a persons birth, their physical characteristics, or specialized names related to circumstances of the parents.

The change of a name can also be of great importance in the Bible.
  • Abram’s name was changed to Abraham in connection with his new calling to be “a father of many nations” Genesis 17:5
  • God gave Jacob the new name Israel "God strives" because he “struggled with God and with men, and prevailed” Genesis 32:28 Genesis 35:10
  • Sarai - "my princess" was changed to Sarah - "princess" indicating a promise of what God would do with Sarah in the future. Genesis 17:15
I think one of the most amazing things one can often see in the naming of people in the Bible is the providence of our soveriegn God. Our omniscient God has complete foreknowledge. He knows and sees everything in advance. Everything is carried out according to His plans and purposes. He knew Abraham would be a father of many nations. God knew that Jacob would receive his father's birthright and become Israel.

We will take a look at the birth and the first few years of the life of Moses.  At the time of his birth the Egyptians were afraid that they would be overrun by the Hebrews. So the Pharaoh ordered the male Hebrew babies to be killed.  So begins the life of Moses...

     Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful,  she hid him for three months.  But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.
     Then his sister  stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it.  When she opened it, she saw the child—a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.”
     Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?”  “Go,” Pharaoh’s daughter told her. So the girl went and called the boy’s mother.  Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages.”
     So the woman took the boy and nursed him.  When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” 
Exodus 2:1-10

The name “Moses,” mosheh, is Egyptian in origin. Though the name seems to derive from the Egyptian verb msy, translated “to give birth.” That word does not directly give the interpretation —
"I drew him out of the water."  The Egyptians believed the Nile river was the source of life. The daughter of Pharaoh may have thought of a child from the river as a gift of their gods. She  therefore named the child from an Egyptian word meaning something like “child” or “born.” But the sound of the Egyptian word she used sounded similar to the Hebrew the verb “to draw out.” Therefore the name of Moses given by the Egyptian princess is like a pun meaning something different to both the Hebrews and the Egyptians.

The conclusion drawn from name Moses for the Hebrew people is something like this: “You called him ‘born one’ in your language and after your custom, but in our language that name means ‘drawing out’ – which is what his future was to be. You drew him out of the water, but he would draw us out of Egypt. The name Moses, chosen for the child by the Pharaoh's daughter, is more appropriate than she could have known.

Wow - "What's in a name?"  Look at the name Moses.  His name described a part of his life. That single name, Moses, meant different things to the Hebrews and the Egyptians. God was behind the population growth of the Hebrews. God was behind the failure of the extermination programs of the Pharaoh. God was behind the saving of Moses. God was behind the finding, raising and teaching of Moses. It was God who sent the the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash at the exact spot where Moses rested in the tiny basket. God was behind the big things in the life of Moses. God was also behind the details in the life of Moses, even including the naming of Moses.  The life of Moses did not fully display the purpose of his name for eighty years, but God knew before he was born.

Everything was and is carried out according to God's plans and purposes. God provides for us in ways we may not at first recognize, but He is there in the big things and in the details too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More than a Label - What's in a name 1

Home Grown Rust

So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. Hosea 1:3-4

When I was in third grade, I didn't like my first name at all. There was no reason why – I just didn't like it. I asked my mom why she named me Phillip, and why two l's in the name? Her answer surprised me. "I don't know," she said. She explained that she and my dad had thought of several names for a boy. The one they had almost decided on was – Brian Anthony. My dad wasn't all that happy with the middle name, so there still was some discussion on the middle name. They had chosen not to name me after anyone else in the family, for fear that someone my feel slighted if there name was not chosen. My mom had a long uncomfortable labor. Sometime after I finally arrived thay asked her for my name. She quickly told them, so say the doctor and the nurses, Phillip Brent. She was later surprised to hear my name. Neither she or my dad had ever suggested either name as one for their son. My great-grandmother told me the same story several years later. It must be true.
When my wife, Karen and I were expecting our first child, we spent some time looking at names. We too chose not to name them after any other family members. We would choose them for how they might sound, what the initials would look like. There was no thought on the meaning of the name. If anything, Michael Brian, was named due to a cute kid on TV. Mikey - from the Life cereal comercial. "Mikey likes it."

NAME — a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known. 
- a label or designation that sets one person apart from another.
In today's culture the above definition is quite adequate. Names are chosen for the way they sound. Perhaps because they are unusual or popular names. In the Bible, however, a name was much more than that. Names for persons, places and things were created from words that had their own meanings. The people of that time were very conscious of the meaning of names. A name expressed something of the very essence of what was being named. There was a connection between the name and whatever was named. To know a name was to know something about that to which the name belonged.

The naming of a child was very important to the parents in biblical times. The child's name could reflect the circumstances of the birth. The name could reflect their expectations for the child, the parents' feelings, their personal feelings, or their graditude to God.
  • The name Isaac iyshaq = laughter to reflect the "laughter" of his mother at his birth Genesis 21:6
  • Esau was named esaw = felt rough "hairy" because of his appearance.
  • Jacob was named  yaaqob  heel catcher."supplanter" because he grasped his brother Esau’s heel Genesis 25:25-26
Another popular custom in biblical times was to compose the child's name by adding a shortened form of God's name as the first of last syllable. El or Ya (Je) were used. The parents also might wish to dedicate their child to God, thus choosing a name to reflect this.
  • Elisha, which means "God is salvation"
  • Daniel, Dan = judge add El - "God is my judge"
  • Jehoiakim, Je is God hoiakim = raises up -"the Lord has established"
  • Isaiah, Jah has saved -"Yahweh saves."
Sometimes, God in His providence, would give the name of the child to the parents. At other times God would direct the parents to name a child a name that would be a message or warning to His people.

  • The prophet Isaiah was directed to name one of his children MaherShalal-Hash-Baz, meaning "speed the spoil, hasten the prey." This name was let the people know of the certainty of an Assyrian invasion of the nation of Judah. Isaiah 8:3-4
  • Hosea was instructed to name a daughter Lo-Ruhamah, "no mercy," and a son Lo-Ammi, "not my people. These names referred to God’s displeasure with His people Hosea 1:6-9 .

Why mention any of this at all?  Well names are quite important in the Bible.  now when you are reading the Bible and come across a name that is impossible to pronounce, you will want to look up that name in a Bible dictionary, or check it out in Strongs, or a reference to People in the Bible.  The name might possibly tell you a lot about the person or place.  You will soon see the the providence of our sovereign God.  That name of the person or place was probably given for a very good reason.  Biblical names were often more than just a label.  Try looking up the meaning of the name Jezreel in the opening verse.  You will begin to see how the sovereign God is in control of all things. You may also see how much fun it is looking up those names I can never pronounce.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Keep the light shining

Lower Lighthouse

You are the light of the world. A city located on top of a hill cannot be hidden,  nor do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house.  In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

Colossians 1:12-13

For everyone who practices evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, in order that his deeds may be revealed, that they are done in God.
John 3:20-21


An illustration from a sermon preached by Dwight L. Moody
Moody often told this moving story of a violent storm on Lake Erie

A few years ago, at the mouth of Cleveland harbor, there were two lights, one at each side of the bay, called the upper and lower lights; and to enter the harbor safely by night, vessels must sight both of the lights. These western lakes are more dangerous sometimes than the great ocean.  On a dark, stormy night, when the waves rolled like mountains and not a star was to be seen, a boat rocking and plunging, neared the Cleveland harbor. The captain and pilot were anxiously watching for the lights.

"Are you sure this is Cleveland?" asked the captain.

"Quite sure, sir,’ replied the pilot." "Ah, there are the lights," said the pilot; "and they must be, from the bluff on which they stand, the upper lights."Where are the lower lights?

"I fear we have passed the lower lights, and have lost our chance of getting into the harbor." replied the captain.

What was to be done?  They looked back, and saw the dim outline of the lower lighthouse against the sky. The lower harbor lights had gone out.

"Can't you turn your head around?" asked the captain.

"No; the night is too wild for that. She won't answer to her helm."

With a strong hand and a brave heart, the old pilot turned the wheel. But alas, The storm was so fearful that they could do nothing. They tried again to make for the harbor, but they went crash against the rocks, and sank to the bottom. Very few escaped; the great majority found a watery grave. Why? Simply because the lower lights had gone out. Now, with us the upper lights are all right. Christ Himself is the upper light, and we are the lower lights, and the cry to us is, keep the lower lights burning; that is what we have to do. He will lead us safe to the sunlit shore of Canaan, where there is no more night.

Philip Paul Bliss was traveling with Dwight L. Moody as the musician for an evangelistic campaign After hearing this illustration by Moody, Philip Paul Bliss, wrote the words and tune to the hymn,  Let the Lower Lights Be BurningThe song was first published in The Charm, a Collection of Sunday School Music, in 1871.  I have often heard the song, but without a good understanding.  My interest in lighthouses somewhat helped me to understand.  In many areas the lighthouse is a beacon to draw ships toward the harbor.  Many harbors can still be treacherous sailing.  As I mentioned in the previous blog, lower lights (harbor lights) are often needed for safe navigation.  

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning

Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.


Each human soul is like a cavern full of gems. The casual observer glances into it through some cranny, and all looks dark and sullen and useless. But let light enter into it and lo! It will flash with crystals and amethysts and quiver under the touch of brightness. If souls do not shine before you it is because you bring them no light to make them shine. Throw away your miserable, smouldering, fuming torch of conceit and hatred, lift up to them the light of love, and lo! They will arise and shine; yea, flame and burn with an undreamt of glory. 
Canon Farrar

Let your light shine. Don't make it shine. Don't hide your light in the clouds or under a basket. Keep the lower lights on. Shine it where it is needed.  People you know and talk to daily are waiting for the light. Give them the Good News.  Allow the Holy Spirit to transform them.


If you are reading my blog for the first time — thank you for stopping by. The most recent blog is at the top of the page.  If the blogs are in a series, the earlier blog is under the most recent. They are backwards in chronology.

Be patient with me. I do have a liking for lighthouses, and a love for Jesus.  I was unable to find any photos of the newer  lower lighthouse in my photos.  The last I visited there was in 2005. After numerous hard drive failures, and sloppy backups, it seems  I have lost the all of the photos of the last two days of our family's visit to San Diego. 

 I have placed a beautiful photo at the top of todays blog from Charles Dare. This is the first photo on my blog that was not taken by me.  The photo above is of the lower lighthouse that replaced the older lighthouse on the cliff.  That older lighthouse was in the previous blog. The reason for the replacement was also explained in the previous blog. My thanks again to  Charles Dare. You may want to see more great photos from him.  You can click on the photo an go to that photo on Flickr. More of his photos are at this link.   SetApart4Chirst  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Shine Your Light

Point Loma Lighthouse - Cabrillo National Monument

... nor do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house.  In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:15-16

Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.
Luke 8:16


The best short getaway that I can remember was a number of years ago. My son, Michael, and I went on a short trip to Cape May. He knew of my interest in lighthouses so we took off for the New Jersey shores. Michael did the planning and the driving. We spent several days working our way up the Jersey cost, visiting the lighthouse along the way. It was great fun and great time spent with my son.

Lighthouses mark hazardous coastlines, shoals  and reefs. They mark safe entries to harbors. Lighthouses have been around for a very long time. Before the actual buildings, treacherous shores were sometimes marked by bonfires  Then came the building - generally a tower of some type. The Lighthouse of Alexandria was built in 280 BC. For centuries this was the tallest man made structure on earth. Lighthouses were along coasts everywhere. Now, working lighthouses are basically a thing of the past. They have been replaced by electronic navigations systems combined with GPS.

Lighthouses are were very prevelant along the North America coast. The first built in North America was in St. Augustine Florida. A tower was built at that site in 1586. The next lighthouse was not built in North America until 1716. It was built in on Little Brewster Island, Boston. Lighthouses were gradually built along the entire East Coast and the Great Lakes. The lighthouses were generally towers or built on higher ground to be seen from a distance.  Lower harbor lights were often placed to mark safe passage into the harbor.

When lighthouses were built on the West Coast, they too were originally built on high cliffs. It was later discovered that the weather conditions on the west coast were not always proper for the high points. Frequent low clouds would obscure the light, so some lighthouses needed to be built on lower ground. My photo above is of the Old Point Loma lighthouse, it was replaced in 1891 with a lighthouse built on lower ground. That new lighthouse was then able to be seen by passing ships.

If one is truly concerned with the salvation of men, we must show the light of the gospel so that it can be seen by all. The light must be seen, the message must be told. There is no purpose in hiding the light behind the clouds; like that of some of the early west coast lighthouses. It must be seen to accomplish God's purpose of the light.  Luke 8:16  Let the light shine in the open, where it can be seen - and God can be glorified.

It is easy to see that the light of lighthouses can save lives. Their light would lead ships to the safety of the harbor. The light of the gospel can lead one to salvation and eternal life. The gospel is the only true light. Only the good news of salvation can save a person's life.  The source and basis of our salvation is the sacrifice of Christ.  Man is depraved, he is a sinner, he will perish. Without Christ man is hopeless. Man is saved from sin only because Christ bore the penalty of sin. Genuine faith is Christ is a gift from God. One then recognizes that we are helpless without forgiveness from a sovereign, holy God whom we have so greatly offended.

Shine that light of your shine. Don't make it shine - let His light shine through you. Don't hide the light behind the clouds.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


You had better take time to pray until Jesus is glorified in your eyes; then you will be
able to make Him glorious to others.
Semple McPherson


If you are reading my blog for the first time — thank you for stopping by. The most recent blog is at the top of the page.  If the blogs are in a series, the earlier blog is under the most recent. They are backwards in chronology.

Be patient with me. I do have a liking for lighthouses, and a love for Jesus. I got too wordy on this blog. I am working one more blog on these verses.  I am also looking to see if I can find a photo I took of the newer San Diego lighthouse.  I may not have saved saved one.  It was not much to see and it was part of a military outpost and rather difficult to photograph.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

You Are the Light of the World

Sanibel Lighthouse after Charley

Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. 
Matthew 5:14-15 (ASV) 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
Matthew 5:14-15 (ESV)

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  
Matthew 5:14-15 (NKJV) 

Other verses to read: (you can mouse over them in most browsers)
Philippians 2:15    2 Corinthians 4:5-6    Luke 11:33

There are at least 2 old hymns that were written from this verse. One is, This Little Light of Mine, it has primarily become a children's song It was written by Harry Dixon Loes sometime about 1920. Harry Dixon Loes studied at the Moody Bible Institute and the American Conservatory of Music. He was a musical composer, and teacher, who wrote lyrics for 1,500 gospel songs, and composed 3,000 tunes. This Little Light of Mine since entered the folk tradition, first being collected by John Lomax in 1939.  The song also found its way into the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s when Fannie Lou Hammer added it to her spiritual song repertoire, along with other songs such as Go Tell it on the Mountain, and We Shall Overcome.

I guess I never listened very closely to all of the words. One of the verses that really struck me, was the fourth verse.  It is so important to know hearthe words of this verse: I'm not going to make it shine, I'm just going to let it shine.  Too many shine their own light - perhaps to be noticed.  This kind of light we are to shine. The light we are to let shine is not inherent in fallen man. Once we are a true believer we have the light, we cannot make this light. Believers have it – the unsaved do not! We can, and should reflect the light of Jesus. We should let nothing in our lives block the glorious light of God. 2 Corinthians 3:18  2 Corinthians 4:5

 Let it Shine!



This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shin.e

Ev'ry where I go
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, ev'ry where I go
I'm going to let it shine
Ev'ry where I go
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

All in my house
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, all in my house
I'm going to let it shine
All in my house
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

I'm not going to make it shine
I'm just going to let it shine
I'm not going to make it shine
I'm just going to let it shine
I'm not going to make it shine
I'm just going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Out in the dark
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, out in the dark
I'm going to let it shine
Out in the dark
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Tomorrow - or soon another hymn written from this verse.

A traveler tells of being ill in his cabin one evening en route to India, when he head the cry, "Man overboard!" Not able to go on deck to help, he asked himself, "What can I do?" Instantly he took his cabin light and held it near the porthole, so that it might shine on the sea. In half a minute, he heard the joyful cry, "It's all right. He's safe."

The next day he was told that his little lamp was the sole means of saving that man's life; it was only by the timely light which shone upon him that the knotted rope could be thrown so as to reach him.
Encyclopedia of Illustrations

Every act leaves the world with a deeper or fainter impress of God.
-Alfred North Whitehead

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beyond Our Understanding

Sunset Sanibel Causeway

How great is God -- beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
Job 36:26

God's voice thunders in marveous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
Job 37:5

Can you find out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
It is khigher than heaven3—what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
Its measure is longer than the earth
and broader than the sea.
Job 11:7-9
See also verses 1 Corinthians 13:12 , Hebrews 1:2  ,  Psalm 90:2

(You can move your mouse over a scripture verse to view the text - clicking -more- will allow you to chose a different version)


God is GREAT.  He is beyond our understanding. He is eternal. He was and Is and always will be. These verses address the magnificance of God. We are unable to concieve His glory, His holiness. We cannot begin to understand the details of His plan, the reason of what He does.

God is great
He is omnipotent.
He is eternal.
He is soverign
He is omnipresent
He is glorious
He is love
He is just
He is holy
He is good
He is perfect

We know Him through His creation. True believersin Christ know Him through His Word. Believers know Him through His goodness, grace, blessings and providence. God is great, yet we do not know how great He is. He is unsearchable.  His greatness is beyond all conception and expression of mankind.

The highest knowledge that we can have of God in this life is to know that He is above all we can think concerning Him.
St. Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Afflictions again!

Rime frost on teasel

Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I obey your word.

Psalm 119:67

Luke 15: 16-18  Job 5:17   Psalm 119:71   Hebrews 12:10-11

This verse was also addressed on this blog earlier (01/24/2013)

 Everyone loves the good times, they want them to stick around forever.  Let the good times roll.  I can remember my time during active duty in the military was a time that I had grown much closer to God.  After my active duty I returned home.  Things were much easier.  There were not so many rules.  I didn't find a job for several weeks, but I wasn't terribly bothered by that.  After several weeks, I found a job, but it wasn't one that I had prepared for in college.

Most of my  friends from High School and college had moved on, or moved away.  I made new friends at work.  These friends were not like my previous friends, but they were fun.  Too much fun.  "Before I was afflicted I went astray."  By the grace of God I was nudged back onto the path of light.

I would love to say that I have never strayed or veered from the path again, but alas – it isn't so. Thankfully, reminders from God, suggestions from my wife, family and Christian friends have always been available. Affliction is not enjoyable. Living in times of prosperity, peace, plenty, and happy days without sorrow it is easy to stray. God know us. He know how, when and if  to afflict us. Staying in the Word is a way to keep us on track. Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

Staying on the path is not the only reason for affliction. Obeying the Word. Staying on the path is not a guarantee to a happy life without any affliction.  Sometimes God will allow afflictions to mold us.  God will use afflictions to prepare us for greater service to Him. God may use afflictions to glorify Him. Believers must have confidence in our Soverign God, in knowing all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28  Our attitude through affliction should be as Paul:  "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18


It is a terrible truth that many of us go astray until we are afflicted; we conceive in our pride that "we shall not be moved, and in this stage we dislike and radically disagree with the sterner presentations of God in the Bible, and it is only by the sharp sword of affliction and the profound conviction of the meanness of our pride that we are brought to see God for ourselves and are ready to turn and obey His commands.
Oswald Chambers

The school of the cross is the school of light; it discovers the world’s vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of God’s mind. Out of dark affliction comes a spiritual light.

In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God.

Did we heartily renounce the pleasures of this world, we should be very little troubled for our afflictions; that which renders an afflicted state so insupportable to many, is because they are too much addicted to the pleasures of this life; and so cannot endure that which makes a separation between them.
John Bunyan

Monday, February 11, 2013


All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB) 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)


Flag-made old

During the war of 1812, Frances Scott Key was held captive aboard the HMS Surprise then the HSM Mindon in the Baltimore bay.  During the rainy night, Key witnessed the bombardment.  From his view below the deck he could see the small flag over the fort,  lit by the "bombs bursting in air."  It was not until dawn that he saw the large, 15 stars and stripes, flying over the fort. It was than he knew of the victory. This inspired him to pen the words that became our National Anthem. 

Corn Harvest

Katharine Lee Bates went on a wagon trip to the 14,000-foot Pikes Peak.  Near the top she and her group had to abandon the wagon and continue the trip to the top on mules. she was very tired, but seeing the view from the top she was inspired to write a poem about the wonder of America.  The first draft of "America the Beautiful" was written by her in 1893.


Katharine Lee Bates, Frances Scott Key and many other people have been inspired by beauty, circumstances, art and other people.  This type of inspiration is an act of emotions. It the power of a situation or occurrence to move the intellect and suggest opinions, actions or art.

The inspiration of the Bible is much different. The Greek  word used here by Paul (1 Timothy 3:16) is theopneustos.  This word means Breathed out by God. This word appears to be coined by Paul combining the words "God" and "breathed." The word does not occur in any other Greek text (biblical or otherwise) prior to this letter.  Paul was referring primarily to what we now call the Old Testament, because parts of the New Testament was still being written.  However, Paul's statement applies to all Scripture, including the New Testament (2 Pet 3:15-16). Some of the New Testament writings were being considered as scripture even at the time of writing of this letter from Paul.

The "God Breathed" Word of God is amazing, wonderful and miraculous. The "God Breathed" word enables the writer to actively participate in the writing. It was not dictated to man by God.  It is God's Breathed word written by man. It is the Word that is inspired, not the writer.  God is fully responsible for His word. Therefore Scripture is true, reliable, powerful and eternal.  It has the power to change lives.  It is profitable for teaching, training, bring salvation and elicit faith. (Heb 4:12-13; 2 Pet 1:20-21)


Approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book, which was once spoken but a book that is now speaking . . . God's speaking is the continuous present . . . a word of God once spoken continues to be spoken, as a child once born continues to be alive, or a world once created continues to exist.  And those are but imperfect illustrations, for children die and worlds burn out, but the word of our God endures forever.
A.W. Tozer

The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. – It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. – It is all pure, all sincere; nothing too much; nothing wanting.
- John Locke

Friday, February 8, 2013

Another Beatitude Psalm - Psalm 41

Sunset Ding Darling NWR

Victory in Spite of Betrayal

For the choir director. A Davidic psalm. 
Happy is one who cares for the poor; 
the Lord will save him in a day of adversity. 
The Lord will keep him and preserve him; 
he will be blessed in the land. 
You will not give him over to the desire of his enemies. 
The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed; 
You will heal him on the bed where he lies. 
I said, “Lord, be gracious to me; 
heal me, for I have sinned against You.” 
My enemies speak maliciously about me: 
“When will he die and be forgotten?” 
When one of them comes to visit, he speaks deceitfully; 
he stores up evil in his heart; 
he goes out and talks. 
All who hate me whisper together about me; 
they plan to harm me. 
“Lethal poison has been poured into him, 
and he won’t rise again from where he lies!” 
Even my friend  in whom I trusted, 
one who ate my bread, 
has raised his heel against me. 
10 But You, Lord, be gracious to me and raise me up; 
then I will repay them. 
11 By this I know that You delight in me: 
my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. 
12 You supported me because of my integrity 
and set me in Your presence forever. 
13 May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised 
from everlasting to everlasting. 

Amen and amen. 

Psalm 41 is the final song in the first book of the psalms.  This psalm begins with  a beatitude and ands with a doxology. Remember the "Amen and amen" ends the book within the book of Psalms.

Everything Beautiful In its Time

Everything Beautiful Ec 3:11, originally uploaded by Ransome.

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB) 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV

There is beauty and harmony in all of of God's works. This can not be said of the works of Mankind. Man attempts to create beauty and harmony, but all of his attempts pale in comparison with the mighty works of God.

Late snow does not surprise  - Early buttercups

The works of God are perfectly made, perfectly timed and in perfect harmony. The beauty of a woodland Spring flower is perfect. It is delicate and fleeting.  It seems as though it could not survive the often extreme weather of early Spring — but it is perfectly timed. If it blossomed sooner it would not have the proper insects to complete the pollination there would be no seeds for the next generation.  If it does not push through the ground and flower early enough, then the full leaves of the overhead trees will rob it of the necessary sunshine to complete its life cycle.  All the wildflowers and trees of the woods are perfectly times for new growth, flowering and seed dispersion.

Milkweed seeds

Yet time is like a prison, a curse, a burden for Man. God is eternal. He knows, sees and exists in past, present and future. But God has placed eternity in our heart. Because of this 'eternity' we can not be completely satisfied by earth, or any of its pleasures. Mankind has a longing for eternity — a longing to be with God forever. We may try to ignore it. We may pretend not to care, but heaven is our home. We have a heartfelt homesickness for heaven.

This eternity in our heart also enables us to see that our Sovereign God will bring all of His creation to completion and beauty at the proper time. For this moment life may seem to be a mess.  Sorrows, pain, illness, finances and tears may overwhelm us. The timing of these events in our life may not be as we would like them, but HE Will make everything beautiful in its time. If you haven't yet accepted Jesus as your Savior — is it time now?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In Everything

Nectar seekers - Hummingbird and bumblebee

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.   Give no offense  to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God, just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many,  so that they may be saved.  Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. 
1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1 (HCB)


In everything - all things - give glory to God.  Everything!  I have not come near to that goal,  but that is to be my purpose.  Whether you eat and drink.  In context to the rest of 1 Corinthians, this would refer to food and drink offered to idols.  But it is not limited to that.  Do everything for  God's glory. In the everyday, mundane, routine, common things of everyday living -- give glory to God.   You were bought  at a price (1 Corinthians 7:23a). Since we have been been "bought  at a price," we belong to the Lord. Christ took upon Himself sins of all believers. He paid for our sins with his life. It is therefore our purpose in life to glorify God.  Either one lives a life that honors God or a life that dishonors Him. 

Question.  What is the chief end of man?
Answer.   Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

[God] is able to take your life, with all of the heartache, all of the pain, all of the regret, all of the missed opportunities, and use you for His glory.”
~ Charles Swindoll

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Anger & Wrath


A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
Proverbs 15:1 KJV

A soft answer will turn away wrath, but a word of trouble will stir anger.
Proverbs 15:1 LEB

You may also want to read 1 Kings 12:13-16   (mouse over the scripture or try the link))

OK - I did it again!  Sure, I didn't particularly like the what she said, or the way she said it.  I haven't had an accident in twenty-five years or more -- and that one wasn't my fault!  Does she think she is the perfect driver?  I'm not the one that got a ticket for running a stop sign! Sure that was twenty years ago too. But -- No!  I was tired, I had  the beginnings of a big headache, I was in a bad mood. It was a rotten night at work.  I'm tired!

Those were all just poor excuses. Did I have to react that way.  Did I have to be so nasty?  Couldn't I have cooled my jets a bit?  This unnecessary argument could have been completely avoided.  A word of trouble will stir anger.  It did stir up anger - both my anger and her's.

Sometimes it is not what we say but how we say it that stirs up the wrath.  Ignoring the situation is not something I do very well.  However, not addressing what was said may even add to the problem. -- Did you hear me?  Are you ignoring me?  Definitely, angry yelling is not the way to go.  

A soft answer is often consolatory.  It can diffuse the situation.   It can stop the anger before it rages out of control.  This is good advice.  It should have been used it the above situation. Proverbs are based on wisdom, and observation of human behavior.  A soft answer will turn away wrath. Remember, this is not a promise from God. 

Will I remember the advice the next time?  Well, that will take considerable prayer on my part.  Chances are you will be in a situation similar to this -- try Soloman's advice.   Let me know how it works.

Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back; in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking)