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A Mansion in Heaven

On June 15th 2017, Randall Mashburn, the author of this blog, passed away. Randy reached the ultimate goal of having a mansion in heaven.

I appreciate all of Randy’s friends who have read his blog over the years. It is with my regret that this will be the last post to his blog.

Funeral will be held on Friday June 23rd at 10:00 AM at Benbrown Funeral Home Irving, Tx @ 707 N Macarthur Blvd.

Burial will be at Laurel Land 12:30 PM @  6000 S R. L. Thornton Fwy, Dallas, TX 75232

Please remember our family in your prayers in the coming days.

Taylor & Kathleen Mashburn.

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YET WILL I TRUST HIM

 

Text: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” Job 13:15a KJV

It seems that the world is about to explode! There are so many situations in human society  that bode terror, produce uneasiness, shadow horror, and declare evil, that one can hardly lay his head on a comfortable pillow to find a peaceful rest. War threatens, terrorism strikes with swift destruction, and movies and books demonstrate how individuals and society itself can be vulnerable to  swift devastation.

But even worse than this is the present politics and culture of our entire modern world.  Since World War II Socialism, Atheism,  one-world politics, and liberal culturism have co-opted to erode the core consertive way of life in our world. Our values and morals, our Christianity, our educational systems have been destroyed. The “Western” way of life and truth has been gutted but remain in  the memory of those from whom it has been wrested.

I have discovered that this world is an existence of hurts, terrors, sorrow, hatred, despair, and lostness.  All about me I see fear, dread, shame, puzzlement, and uncertainty. People are in great jeopardy in this life’s circumstances, and have huge fears about the future.  And every generation alive exists in apprehensive panic, threatened existence, and feels compromised security. The eyes of many people betray these fears, even Christians!  Nevertheless, I have lived most of my life in times of happiness and joy, of peace and prosperity, of plenty and good will. God has been good to me!

Let me firmly deny that I am among the “chicken littles”. Nor am I a total “Doom Sayer”. And please don’t mix me up with the End of the World prophets. Rather, I am an evangelist of  Assurance!  That is to say: “I preach Christ crucified! ” “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Romans 15:13 Christ’s sheep deeply need a gospel that guarantees them security, comfort, steadfastness, and hope!   To be sure, we have just such a gospel; but do we live as if we believe it? It is high time to renounce such disbelief and put true faith back in our hearts!  It is urgent that we fortify ourselves and not allow ourselves to be disheartened and uncertain against the assaults of Satan.

Let’s affirm this first: God stands firmly upon the promises he has made his children.  YHWH (Jehovah) promised to the descendants of Abraham that he would give them the land of Canaan after he had freed them from Egyptian bondage. He was as good as his Word! If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 7:12   In all that God had covenanted and affirmed with the Israelites, God has never failed, abandoned, nor forgotten what he has said. NOR WILL OUR GOD EVER DO LESS THAN HE HAS PROMISED.   “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” Joshua 23:14 

 The recognition and appreciation of the bedrock of our life is the Love we have  toward God and all other men.   He said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 3 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3  Life needs a solid foundation. The under-girding for a human and divine relationship must be built upon immovable trust between two indivisible persons. You must know the unwavering character of the rock and Savior that our God is. He is immovable in faithfulness toward us, and we must be so toward him. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews. 13:5 

LIFE IN CHRIST  PRODUCES HOPE. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” Romans 5:3-4  The growth of hope is determined by how we maintain the seedbed of the heart. Here is where we reap the benefits of the sustenance of our own souls. Enjoy that maintenance of contentment by fostering a happy heart, and live with the joy of God’s presence. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13  

Our God is a God of salvation.  Our sins are many, and our offenses against God are egregious.  But God has mercy and forgiveness for all. Our consciousness of our own sins is mountainous, but God’s resources to grant us forgiveness is inexhaustible. Just writing about it stresses my paltry ability to understand it. God handles the reality of doing forgiveness worlds beyond the ease with which my wife cooks a chocolate sheath cake. THAT WAS IT!  And we are its beneficiaries! ” Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” Psalms 68:19 

Perhaps of all the items we have listed in this article the one we might need most frequently  in this sinister world is COMFORT.  There are sorrows, woes, pains, and heartbreaks to fill every  lifetime and have tons left over. Christians by their obedience to God’s laws can avoid evil consequences of  sin, but they will disobey sometimes and face the punishment themselves. And, of course, there are natural occurrences for which they must suffer. That is to say, Punishment cannot always be bypassed. Nights of sorrow and regret follow (and days also). So if our times bode horrid threats, frightening events seem to loom in  night shadows, and days threaten in dark clouds, we still have a source of comfort to alleviate the blues and cheer broken hearts. We must reach out and seek divine comfort.  The Comforter must hear our prayers for assistance as we must express our unwavering knowledge that our God’s resources are Satan’s threats. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4  

TRUTH is one of the most important elements in God’s relationship with man. Without truth in spiritual relations there is nothing! GOD IS TRUTH AND IS INCAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING BUT TRUTH.  SADLY, MAN IS PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF BREAKING TRUTH, AND IS CONSTANTLY DOING SO TO HIS OWN DESTRUCTION. THOUGH HE IS CAPABLE OF DOING TRUTH, HE IGNORES, DISSOLVES, FORGETS, AND USES OR MISUSES TRUTH TO WHATEVER ENDS HE PLEASES. God has never used truth against man but to guide and bless man. He gives truth to man to guide and bless him in this life and to instruct him to a heavenly future life. Sad to say, modern man has de-valued truth: he has altered everything about truth to suit any use (good, evil, selfishness, for propaganda [good or bad]). It seems that “truth” can be anything one wants it to be. However, if you follow Jesus Christ, you must have an honorable and obedient relationship with truth. No exceptions. Consider your relationship  with Deity.  God the Father is truth. “So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my eyes.” Isaiah 65:16 The Holy Spirit is truth. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” John 15:26 Jesus relates that he is truth. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”” John 15:6  Your spiritual life depends on spiritual truth and the truth resides explicitly in the Godhead.  That tie cannot be broken by the Godhead, so you must honor it, obey it, and teach it. 

” And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

 

REM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TELL US WHAT WE MUST DO

 


Text: “There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5 for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines… Then Manoah prayed to the LORD and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.”  Judges 13:2-5, 8

There are some tasks for which a human male are totally unequipped. Caring for an infant is one of those life skills for which a man is hopelessly in the dark. When Joy (our daughter) first came into our home as a helpless resident I was a helpless rookie father. I had no idea what she needed when she cried. I had no inkling what or how to feed her, put a diaper on her, or how to clean her. And those were my good points! So Kathleen stepped forward, and with seeming perfect knowledge and command gave expert care. For this I had only one answer: utterly thankful prayer. One year and three days later another one of these indefensible creatures came to add to our condition – same mother, same prayer from dad. Help!

In our text a miraculous birth is announced by an angel to a peasant woman: she is to have a son, a person of special service to God. Even from his infancy he is subject to an oath of holiness requiring special diet, unique actions, forbidden activities, and probably secret teachings. It appears then, that His parents’ home will remain a rather sacred and reclusive atmosphere. After pondering the necessities and far reaching expectations of rearing this child, the parents decide to undertake these grave responsibilities, but that the acceptance of all this will require their every effort and that they need much more knowledge and divine guidance than she now has.

Probably the most trying night on the calendar for the father of a young  child is December 24. *(Yes, Christmas Eve!) Tots expecting Santa want to stay up until his arrival with their gifts. Once the kids are asleep Dad heads for the closet, brings out the gifts which need assembly, gets his tools, and sits down on the den floor to do his job. I remember one such Christmas eve, when there were a few small toys for slight work, but my son was getting a slot car racing set-up and and the daughter was getting a cardboard construction oven with baking  capabilities via a light bulb (much assembly required). So dad opens the plastic bags containing multitudes of parts, and instructions as mystifying as assembling a recently discovered  truckload of dinosaur bones! You know: “find 3/8 X 1:5/8 inches and 3:8″ tap…, etc”. Three hours later dad had not finished the stove, so moved on to an hour and a half on the slot race car track.  Lacking completion he called Sears and they sent a Ph.D. who designed the item and finished assembly in 20 minutes. (Please recognize that line about the Sears guy was completely humorous, but the other was undeniable frustration.) (LESSON: REAL LIFE IS MUCH MORE COMPLEX AND NEEDS MORE INSTRUCTIONS.) 

Life without instructions is not a cake walk. A lot of people think that their lives are entirely their own so they ought to be able to write the rules. They refuse to abide by any formal setting forth of guidance and right and wrong, or regulation from any other thing greater than themselves. But that means they refuse any unjust offences against themselves, correction for the breakers of higher codes, nor expectations of consideration of any other laws of others. Neither should such persons demand that they be given considerations from a retributive law or consideration (a”Golden Rule”).  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,  5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…”  I John 2:4-6

Picking beliefs from a smorgasbord of spiritual concoctions you like and refusing things not to your tastes is neither practical nor reasonable, but that is life as some live it. This is selection of mixtures of spiritual toxins that will poison your soul. It is comparable to taking doses of potent medications which each adds to the lethal certainties of death. Only the true teaching of the true God of heaven can provide eternal life. “For the word of God is living and full of power, and is sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting through and making a division even of the soul and the spirit, the bones and the muscles, and quick to see the thoughts and purposes of the heart.” Acts 4:12 (The Bible in Best English)   “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV

Why would a person think that he could get through this life without some help from his maker? Could pride have something to to with this? Does belief preconceive that this problem is just a simple, everyday event, an easily corrected mistake?  This is so simple that I will fix it in two days! When the Ford Motor Company introduces a brand new automobile, every new car is furnished with a manual of operations. Each task in the operation of the vehicle is discussed and those beyond the means of the regular driver is directed to the service department for more expert use and care. But many new buyers immediately “toss” the owner’s manual. Why? Undue assumption of the human male’s innate ability of the operation and maintenance of an automobile just because his daddy had one. (Translation: overweening pride.) When dealing with the human soul, the wonderful production of God, it is absolutely necessary to read the maker’s one true manual about it operation: the Bible!   ” Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8 “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter I 1:20-21

Never cease to make God’s interests as the interests you seek in life! Every person’s life is filled with the things he values and endeavors to do well. A Christian must grow in the church until he can serve well as a teacher or preacher, or other things. But the crucial thing is for you to develope and use the skills to serve God. It is sad when one fails to pursue what God wants, and selects some evil or hurtful  activity that  hurts the church and smudges her efforts, but that is what is at stake. Seek for things for which God gives you the talent, and put yourself to his use. Look at life through God’s eyes. Get focused to serving him!  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

REM

REPENT WHEN?

Text: “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;  13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12-13 

Repentance is a foundational and integral portion of a relationship with God. Its activity in man’s heart promotes moral growth and formation of an infant and throughout life. The involvement of morality  to one’s soul is certain to stimulate guilt as a warning about one’s behavior in relation to the recognition of right and wrong. Webster’s Dictionary gives several synonyms for repentance: (e.g. contriteness, contrition, penitence) and others to recognize and utililize concepts of right and wrong in the heart.

The concept of repentance can be utilized correctly or it can be neglected and overruled. When guilt is truly recognized, repentance  can be exercised to receive proper forgiveness from God and from men. This is a very necessary part of one’s moral education. On the other hand, repentance can be manipulated and hardened so as to allow it to be ignored. Handle repentance gently. Let no man argue that he has no guilt nor need to repent to the righteous God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10  

What is meant by “repent”? In college I frequently attended church services in Oklahoma City where James Kinney was the regular preacher. Bro. Kinney was somewhat a dramatic preacher and on this day he preached on “Repentance”.  He gave some illustrations of what that word means. All of a sudden he raised his Bible and plunked it loudly on the top of the pulpit, then stormed off the dais loudly and walking briskly to the exit proclaimed, “I won’t put up with this any more!” But nearing the door he stopped, reversed his direction and entered the pulpit again. “That’s what repentance is: making a turn around from wrong to right!”

God has a great heart for penitence and forgiveness. He is ready and waiting to forgive and forget.  PENITENCE is neither dispensable nor can it be assuaged by ‘terms”. In our age it seems that men believe that God can be haggled with. As the days of the much-beloved King David of Israel drew to a close, God affirmed his covenant with David be continued with his son Solomon. During the inauguration ceremonies Solomon reminds Israelite people how God had blessed his people with the Promised Land.  Daily the heavens rain punishment for God’s punishment for their horrid sins, yet much punishment can be escaped if the people repent. But the word of God cites all the the people must do in their repentance. Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; turn to me with all your heart and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12-13  Picture  yourself at the crossroads, embraced on one side by sin and unrighteousness and on the other by purity and irreproachableness, you realize that you are being ripped apart. The penitent heart demonstrates your your return to the ways of God. The contest is about allowing repentance to prevail, or sinfulness to reign in you. See the passage above in this paragraph. The sacred writer details what instruments your must utilize to come our forgiven.  These are “the spiritual weapons” for the fight of a soldier of God. God wants “a few good men”! Arm yourselves and repent. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

However, let’s return to our article title and check out the question “Repent when?” It is visible to me that people don’t want to deal with repentance forthrightly. To some folk the admission of their wrongdoings is embarrassing, or such action is something they would like to postpone.  Humiliation makes us uncomfortable. But the Bible insists that penitence sometimes is required with promptness and a confession of shame. And the Bible even insists that penitence can not be postponed. It is a sure thing that sin be owned up to at some point. To be sure, some sinners do seek forgiveness in a timely fashion; other sinners postpone interminably.  The apostles Peter and John visited the church at Samaria and as part of this congregation’s lacking distributed the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. As these disciples began to utilize these gifts publicly in order to attract hearers to the gospel, Simon the Magician attempted to get Peter and James to give him the ability to pass these gifts on to other Christians. Peter rebuked him for such a subversion of the gifts. He promptly called upon them to to pray for his deep shame. He willingly repented “now”.  And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” Acts 8:24 Prompt repentance for sure! On the other hand, when Paul began to be hounded to death by the persistent Sadducees he was inducted into the criminal system of the Romans. His persecutor was Felix the governor who began to prosecute him with his own cynicism. Surprisingly, Paul appears to have begun to soften the severity with the message of  the gospel. The apostle reasoned with ” righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment”  (Acts 24:25) and Felix seems to have recognized a concern for repentance, but not much urgency, for he says to Paul, “Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” Acts 24:25 

Yes, Repentance when?

REM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHERE DOES ONE BEGIN IN BEING A CHRISTIAN?

Text:   “36”Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  38 This is the great and first commandment.  39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 

No, this article is not a lesson about baptism.  Actually we are exploring what the Bible asserts about the holiness that should be the very essence of your life after you have become a Christian. Perhaps  this is the most important issue in your life here on earth serving Jesus.   It is stated in several places in the Bible, albeit in slightly different words. This may well be a summation about what you believe and how you act. Some people might even call it a “world view”. Remembering this statement should keep you grounded in the Christian life.

Open your Bible to Exodus chapter 20 and verses 1 and 2. These verses are the PREAMBLE to God’s ten commandments  (laws) about to be revealed to the Israelites as the Law of God’s Covenant. John I. Durham says that this preamble is “a basic phrase of OT theological rhetoric”, and cited other scholars who called it a “primary formula” and  “a self-presentation formula”. In other words it as a model to present God to human beings as the way of understanding  Him. As the commandments proceed they disclose the Revealed God of the Law to be the only God, and in fact, the only God for them to worship.

Long ago an older preacher talking to some of us younger evangelists said, “Let me tell you the three things that you need to make a great sermon. First, begin with a really great introduction to grab their attention! Then second, lay a wonderful body of the sermon on them. Third, go all out  for a great conclusion! That is a fantastic plan!  (Easy to tell; difficult to do!) Surprisingly, that is also the formula for beginning, living, and ending a successful Christian life!

Well, here is the first great step in the plan: Get to know God. Though many new Christians think (and many mature Christians as well) they have the handle of knowing all about God. Hardly! Let me point out “rethink your present knowledge of Deity”. Paul was pleased with the progress of the growing saints in Galatia, but there was soooooooo much for them to learn. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” Galatians 4:9   

On the day the Law of Moses was read to the Israelites God presented his self revelation so Israel could advance in their perception of him. Look at Exodus 20:4: “”You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Israel is pledging herself to the one unique God. Other nations may subscribe to things they can only call “gods”, who are merely wood and stone, and can not speak or walk. He is the unique God who has delivered them from the mightiest nation of their times,  one who ruined their land and resources. And this is just “page 1” of who God is. It all begins with God’s holiness! Moses has already received his introduction. He stood one day on the rugged mountainside at Mt. Sinai, saw a bush afire but not being consumed. He heard the voice of God thunder and say, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:4 Moses quaked and hid his face. He and Israel would find out in the Sinai desert for the next 40 years. That was the first chapter about God and who he is! To begin as a Christian you must begin your first chapter of Volume I with accepting the holiness of God and how to dedicate yourself to his holy character all your long life! Then grow each day in that holiness for there is no other way to serve him. ” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” Luke 4:8

Now here is the second great step in the plan of always being a Christian. The great middle of the Christian’s life is abiding with God so that you can see and appreciate who he is. Let’s take Moses for an example of one who lived with and observed who God is.  He was alone with God for forty days on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law. Think what a great opportunity that was to see the pattern of holiness for your life.! Many occasions came for Moses to familiarize himself  in the Tent of Meeting face to face with God! What unequaled experiences! And forty years as being an umpire between God and the Israelite people. Unique! Let’s catch three invaluable principles of building our lives with God. One – Live with God as your LordTwo – Walk with God as your friend. (Like Enoch. Genesis 5:24) Three – Listen to your God as your Counselor

Now the third part of the formula: the Grande Finale. (Though these things actually are part of the Christian life throughout, they must be continually believed and practiced in order to power and sustain the relationship with God until your rewards are bestowed upon you.) You must take every measure that you do not let your salvation slip away. “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 1:2  Here are two principles for life-long practice and application.  1. Trust God to keep his promises. Life hurls hurts at us for all out existence. It is hard to determine what they mean, and harder still to endure some of them. The blows are so hard sometimes that they shake our faith to the core. Don’t cave in! ” And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalms 9:10   2. Lean on God for his comfort.   From here to heaven —you will need warmth and encouragement. Those God has abundantly comforted have cast themselves upon him. “…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7 

Wherever you are, get on this road to heaven and stay.

 

REM

 

WHO IS FIRST?

Text: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians  2:3-4

Life presents us with the choices of how we judge ourselves in relation to other persons. Where do we rank in our contacts with other people in various areas: e.g.  athletic skills, vocational skills, physical appearance, mental endeavors, financial status, etc? Just about anything you can name. Ideally, this effort would be used as assessment in improving ourselves. We do not need a high rating to stoke our egos. We can see that Paul in our text above warns us not to compare ourselves to others from rivalry  or conceit.  To do this would certainly induct pride into the equation.

Does it matter who is first?  Rivalry is very common wherever people get together. If you want to know how rowdy real rivalry can get, go to a Texas vs OU football game. Self conceit and pride are the main ingredients of rivalry.  Almost any subject can furnish fuel for the controversy. As the Lord and his disciples turned toward their home base at Capernaum, his disciples began to engage in an argument about the “pecking order” in their klatch. I suspect Jesus had heard this before. “I am the greatest.” Really? In this small gathering of itinerant preachers what difference would it make?  These men would turn the world upside down within the next few decades, but not one of them  ever ever held a scepter nor sat on a worldly throne. Every one of them  died as a criminal like their very leader. They finally had to learn that Jesus was everything and they were nothing. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 

It is important in the Christian life to learn how to utilize humility and thoughtfulness.  Humility is usually recognized in the lives of doers of good. That is to say that humility is noticed but perhaps neglected. A lot of people know what humility is when they see it, but they disregard the fact that they need to practice it. It seems that thoughtfulness is the mother of  selfless action and selfless action is the mother of humility. Learn to scrutinize needs of others. As Lazarus the beggar daily was passed by the rich man at whose gate the beggar lay, the “got rocks” thought of him merely as part of the scenery. The rich man thought only of his needs, and not what he could do for the needy.  “”Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22:36-40  

Be sure to get the jump on being good to others and they will recognize you are a step ahead in making others happy. Being first in practicing doing good wins the admiration of others.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12:13-14 Never say anything bad to someone, but speak only good.   Start showing good will towards early and they will give you respect. 

Show happiness and agreeableness when others ask you to help them do a task. Give of yourself and your time without being resentful; don’t grouse that you are being taken advantage of.  Rather consider it a privilege to aid another person. It may be an opportunity to put another star in your crown or to win over another person who is unfavorable  towards you. “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Romans 12:17 And, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21  

 Work with others without seeking praise. Whoever seeks the praise in doing and completing a needed task is usually a politician! The task may be small and not have many consequences, but some people find a way to blow things out of proportion.  Don’t toot your own horn too often or you will find others have already seen through you applause seeking. Likewise there are those who neglect to cooperate with fellow workers or desert before the job is done. Someone might spill the beans: “He does’t work and play well with others.”   “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3

But here in the struggle for fame and pelf
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know
That I’m bluster and buff and empty show.

REM

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE LOVE OF CHRIST WHICH PASSETH KNOWLEDGE (Guest Devotional)

Ephesians 3:19
The love of Christ which passeth knowledge.
The love of Christ in its sweetness, its fulness, its greatness, its faithfulness, passeth all human comprehension. Where shall language be found which shall describe His matchless, His unparalleled love towards the children of men? It is so vast and boundless that, as the swallow but skimmeth the water, and diveth not into its depths, so all descriptive words but touch the surface, while depths immeasurable lie beneath. Well might the poet say,
“O love, thou fathomless abyss!”
for this love of Christ is indeed measureless and fathomless; none can attain unto it. Before we can have any right idea of the love of Jesus, we must understand His previous glory in its height of majesty, and His incarnation upon the earth in all its depths of shame. But who can tell us the majesty of Christ? When He was enthroned in the highest heavens He was very God of very God; by Him were the heavens made, and all the hosts thereof. His own almighty arm upheld the spheres; the praises of cherubim and seraphim perpetually surrounded Him; the full chorus of the hallelujahs of the universe unceasingly flowed to the foot of his throne: He reigned supreme above all His creatures, God over all, blessed for ever. Who can tell His height of glory then? And who, on the other hand, can tell how low He descended? To be a man was something, to be a man of sorrows was far more; to bleed, and die, and suffer, these were much for Him who was the Son of God; but to suffer such unparalleled agony-to endure a death of shame and desertion by His Father, this is a depth of condescending love which the most inspired mind must utterly fail to fathom. Herein is love! and truly it is love that “passeth knowledge.” O let this love fill our hearts with adoring gratitude, and lead us to practical manifestations of its power.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

GOD, THE JEALOUS

Text: “…for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…” Exodus 34:14

The Bible truthfully and straightforwardly states that God is a “jealous” God.  Many detractors of the Bible have ridiculed the idea that God could embrace such an unseemly characteristic in his person. They should have read more of the Bible and have gotten  some understanding of what is truly indicated by the scripture. To do so would have caused them to praise God instead of blaspheme him.

This facet of God’s character is actually love and saving for himself a “remnant” of men to be his people and deliver them from sin to serve him. “In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people…” Isaiah 28:5  Of course, the word “remnant” means “a usually small part, member, or trace remaining”. The second entry down in Websters says that is also a small group of people. 

God has made a plan of salvation whose target is a small segment of the world’s people. He begins by establishing a covenant with one man, Abraham, promising him that though he was presently childless his progeny would be countless. “And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:3  Years passed before the firstborn son, Ishmael, was delivered by Hagar, a concubine of Abraham’s. More years passed, and Isaac was born to Sarah. It was Isaac with whom God covenanted and promised that  that offspring  would be the remnant.


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Later Abraham’s descendants fled from Egyptian bondage and became the nation that Moses ruled. At Mt. Sinai God made a covenant with the Israelites to be the remnant to whom God was “married”. This rag-tag band of freedmen were an unlikely mixture of people to serve God’s ends, but the the Lord chooses them from all Earth’s people to serve his ends.  “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”  Deuternomy 7:6-8  

Notice some of the terms of this contract between God and this “remnant”. This small group was chosen by God to be treasured  and redeemed from the corrupt societies of man around them. It was by the mighty hand of God  freed and made his possession. The Bible repeatedly alludes to this in terms of a marriage conract between God and the Israelites. Ostensibly, God is a husband who loves, provides for, and protects the Israelites (his wife). She is duty bound by the agreement to love him, honor him, and be faithful to him. If the wife breaks her bonds, she can be “divorced” from her “lord” and all of her blessings and privileges can be withdrawn. God explains that though the Israelites were fewer  and thus more undesirable as a plus for him, his election of them (he “set his love on you”)  was motivated by “keeping the oath he swore to your fathers”At that time the Israelites were just one of the sinful and idol-devoted peoples of the earth. But God intended to make them to be his unique “holy people”.  The term holy people means that they became uniquely and absolutely his. They had to abandon all vestiges of the sinful practices of their neighboring  idolaters, to keep the Law of YHWH, and be entirely devout and steadfast in his service.

After embracing the Law of Moses heartily and promising to obey it (“All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” Exodus 19:8), they drifted back into the idolatrous, sinful, morally corrupt ways of the nations about them. When Moses began to disclose to the people the laws of the covenant they were making with YHWH that day he began with a short introduction saying, “‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 “‘You shall have no other gods before me. 8 “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.””  Deuteronomy 20:6-8  These words of the preamble identify the grandeur of the person with whom Israel is covenanting: the non-pareil  (“having no equal”, Websters Dictionary) Deity who has himself freed Israel from bondage.  Directly following is Israel’s prime world view to which they are now inseparably and totally devoted: the one true God. This conjoining of God with Israel excluded any other nation.  “Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,” II Corinthians 6:17

Nevertheless, God knew that it was inevitable that close dealings with the idolatrous and iniquitous Canaanites would taint and entice Israel into sin and separation from him, ( Ex. Lot at Sodom. “(for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] lawless deeds…” II Peter 2:8)  So God chose a severe course of action to keep his people pure and to fulfill the promise of giving Israel the land of Canaan. He commanded the invasion forces to drive the Canaanites by war and to annihilate the lingerers.  Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. 14(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.” Exodus 34:12-16

Verse 14 just above states that God is a jealous God and why. The Lord wants to preserve from sin his covenanted wife Israel because of his love. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,” Ephesians 2:4  So much the better for you!   Since we Christians are the bride of Christ, we are the “remnant”, the “people of God”,  “the church”, God is jealous over us to protect us from apostacy. He feeds us, energizes us, heals us, (and this is great!), he forgives us and calls us to return when we have erred. 

Now you know the “skinny” of God practicing jealousy! Let God be jealous. Let’s pray, “God, please be jealous over me!”

REM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOD’S PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING

GOD’S PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING

“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

—Revelation 13:8

Some think the crucifixion of Jesus was a rude interruption of what appeared to be the ministry of a great humanitarian and moral teacher. But the Bible tells us something different: the cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning.

The wise men brought Him unusual gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They brought Him gold because He was to be a king, frankincense because He would stand as a high priest between us and the Father, and myrrh, an embalming element, because He would go to the cross.

Even before His birth in Bethlehem, a decision was made in heaven that God would have to come to this earth and take drastic measures because of the dilemma humanity had gotten themselves into in the Garden of Eden. The decision was made that Jesus would come to earth and go to a cross. Revelation 13:8 says He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

And in the gripping Old Testament account of Abraham and his beloved son, Isaac, we have a classic picture of what took place at the cross from God’s perspective. Isaac’s name actually means “laughter,” and that is what he brought into the home of the aged Abraham and Sarah. So imagine what a shock it must have been when God came to Abraham one day and told him to take his beloved son and go offer him as a sacrifice.

There was nothing greater God could have asked from Abraham. And as Abraham took Isaac to that place of sacrifice, he prophetically said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb” (Genesis 22:8).

That is exactly what happened at the cross. God provided for Himself the Lamb when He gave His Son—His only Son, whom He loved—for us.

Unattributed from “Keep Hope Alive: Inspiration For Spiritual Growth”

EVIL IS AN INCHWORM

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  I Peter 5:8

The Devil is a much more clever character than we give him credit for! Why do I say that?  Satan has allowed his real characterization  to become be-smudged because that gives him the advantage of being under-rated by men. To begin with, God has revealed Satan to be a very  clever character. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.” Genesis 3:1a  Nevertheless, the Devil knows that if you allow people to laugh at and ridicule something long enough that the fear and hatred of that person or object will be replaced by acceptance and dread of him will fade into the background.  And so mankind has made a cartoon of him and ridiculed him in jests and songs until they amused themselves and forgot his true terror and  power, thus accepting his deceptions and temptations, and abandoned the terrible reality of his seductiveness and horror of his punishments. We have taken a hideous enemy of our eternal souls, and have changed our perception of him to a harmless, jovial buffoon. Look at his caricatures.

Image result for free cartoon character of the devil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Satan is opportunistic.  The Devil knows when to attack, what to attack, where to attack, how to attack, and whom to attack.  A preying beast, as Peter revealed him, is treacherous, and unrelenting, and you are at a great disadvantage unless you maintain a constant vigil.  Look at the temptation of Jesus in  Matthew 4. Not just a casual assault, but carefully planned, Satan knew where Jesus’ weakness was this day after an extended fast in the desert. Matthew relates  “he was hungry…” Matthew 4:1  Knowing Jesus’ humanity, Satan already had two more attempts framed for that day. He knows just exactly how to tempt you.

Satan is a tactician. One of the most malevolent tools of the Devil in the Bible is Jezebel, the wife of Ahab the King of Israel. Naboth was a vinedresser who had a beautiful vineyard coveted by Ahab. The king wanted the vineyard for his own and went to Naboth to purchase it, but the field was forbidden by the Law of Moses to be sold because it was dedicated by law. When Jezebel found out that Ahab was fitful over it, she told the king, “You are the king! Cheer up. I will get it for you!” She then concocted a murder plot against Naboth and seized the property for her husband. What a treacherous tactician of evil! I Kings 21:1-16  Would you like to guess who taught her?  

The Devil is a patient tempter.  “One swallow does not a summer make.” The summer in Capistrano is not complete with the arrival of the first migration of the year. There remains a stream of arrivals. Do you think that Satan was finished tempting Jesus after the incident above (just three attempts). Think again. Luke shows that Satan must have made many other assaults upon Jesus’ will to obey God.  And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13 The Devil’s attempts this day were thwarted, but Luke asserts that he was always on the alert for other opportunities, and he took them! Consider the incident following Peter’s great confession of Jesus as the Christ, the group of teacher and disciples  turned toward Jerusalem. Jesus’ tone changes and he reveals his death on the cross to this stunned group. Peter takes Jesus apart and counsels the Master, “No, this is impossible for you to suffer.” “But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23 Satan has waited to the perfect time and adviser to Jesus to dissuade Him to halt the plan of salvation just before it is to be culminated. Oh, the clever Satan! We know not how many temptations the Devil had proffered to Jesus between the desert and this day, but here is implication that Satan had the persistence to have made many attempts. The Lord, however, proved unassailable to these testings.

The Devil is a planner for the future.  In the old film noir mystery movie serials the cast included a master criminal, sometimes with some  fantastic title as “The Black Tiger”, or sometimes the gang just called him “Boss”. This boss always had an intricate plan to take over the city or steal an enormous fortune, etc. There were a lot of twists and turns, but the boss always had a back-up plot. To get someone else  to be punished for the crime they usually “framed” some innocent person with a well-thought-out trick.  To be sure, the Devil is enormously devious in using long-range schemes…schemes whose final outcome is ages in the future. Perhaps fates of evil men in the treachery against Jesus had through long ages been prepared by Satan: men like Judas Iscariot and even Caiaphas. It may well be that many of the seeds of the horrid political events taking place today were planted long ago. Certainly  much of the  political turmoil, moral grossness, and severe hostility in our world today have their genesis in the last century.

As an inchworm creeps slowly to its destination, so does the convoluted and complex unrighteousness of Satan and his nefarious work. Plodding, oozing, and slogging have been the ways of the advance of the present corruption. Until I was over 50 years of I never considered that there was so much evil in the world. Now has come the real evil without any shame, deception, nor excuse.  Evil has inched its way over the centuries to the hideous reality that it is. We Christians must rise up and fight it.

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13

REM

READERS: In the past I have never asked you to forward any of my articles. I have decided to ask you now please to forward this one (only) to your friends. I think it is an important to help us understand our times. I fear that we Christians are being overwhelmed by terrible forces of evil. We must see it for what it truly is. Please do so right after you read it.

Also, I would recommend for your reading a book entitled “The Death of Satan: How Americans Have  Lost The Sense of  EVIL”, by Andrew Delblanco. You may find it on Amazon, or on the internet at:

http://www.abebooks.com