Do You Know if You are Praying in the Will of God?

           Prayer is an honor and privilege; we can communicate with God the Father, in the Name of Jesus the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In the At Home in Mitford series, popular several years ago, Pastor Tim and his wife have a “prayer than never fails,” which they say when they don’t know how to pray:  “Thy will be done…”  We may not know His Divine will in a certain situation.  But, we can know the basics.                                                                                      First of all, what hinders prayer?  Sin.  Prayers of non-believers, other than the prayer of repentance, need not be answered even though God knows all about the unbeliever.  John 9:31 and Prov. 15:29. “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”  How are we righteous? We are made righteous by Christ’s shed blood and by believing in Him.              Christians are righteous, but we still sin, so we need to ask for forgiveness.   We need to confess and pray for our own forgiveness, and we need to pray that we will forgive others.   Unconfessed sin, inhibits answered prayer.  James 4:3 tells us, to consider our motive in asking; if it is selfish, God need not answer.  We are not to doubt, James 1:6. Honor your marriage so your prayers are not hindered.  I Peter 3:7. 

                                       Pray the Word of God back to Him. 

            One of the greatest prayers we can offer is that the Holy Spirit will draw people to Himself.  We can always pray for the salvation of family and friends.  It may take 30 years, but I believe God will answer in the positive.  “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:6.                                                                                                  We may pray for healing, but we don’t know what God has in mind.  (Why did the baby die?  Why didn’t God heal her?)  Our former church had quarterly healing services; the pastor would anoint the forehead of the petitioner with oil, and the deacons would pray for healing.  We saw several people healed.  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16 KJV                                                                                                                                  We are also instructed to pray as Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13; and we are to pray for: our enemies, Matt. 5:44;  missionaries,  Luke 10:2;  ministers, Col. 4:3;  and our government leaders, 1 Tim. 2:1-3.

             In many cases, the Holy Spirit takes our struggling attempts and presents them perfectly to God.  Romans 8:26-28.  Even so, we may pray with boldness.  The curtain is torn giving us access to the Father.  Finally, as has been said, it’s not about you or me, it’s about God’s will.  Lord, Thy will be done.  Amen.


Do You Know Much About Saint Patrick?

             You probably know that March 17th is Saint Patrick’s Day.  He is the patron saint of Ireland.  But, do you know where and when he was born?  He was actually born near the west coast of England in what is now Scotland, in the late 300’s, during the time Rome ruled Britain. His family was well-to-do and Christian, but he was rebellious as a young teen.  (Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.)  At age 16, Patrick was captured by Irish marauders, taken to Ireland, and sold into slavery to a Druid chieftain.  (Eph. 6:5, Slaves be obedient to those who are your earthly masters…as to Christ…doing the will of God from the heart….)  For six years Patrick lived in poverty, tending sheep on the hillsides. There he had the opportunity to learn the Irish customs, language, and culture, and time to think about the Lord he had rejected at home.  He asked Christ for forgiveness and was filled with the Spirit.  (Romans 10:9-10, …believe…and confess…)(Acts 13:52, …filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.)  He was told in a dream to flee to the coast and escape by boat; he returned to England.

            Patrick dedicated his life to God, to being holy, and doing God’s will.  (John 4:34, Jesus said…my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.)  He studied in France under the Bishop of Tours and became a priest.  (2 Tim. 2:15, Study to show thyself approved, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth.)  In a dream, Patrick heard God’s call to go back to Ireland as a missionary.  (Similar to Acts 16:9-10, A vision appeared …in the night…beseeching him, saying ‘Come over…and help us’….and we sought to go…concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.) He was made a Bishop and returned to Ireland around 433; he went about preaching the Word of God, though always in danger of persecution.   

            Legend says that Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaf clover, as an illustration to teach the concept of the Trinity. (Matt. 6:28, ...consider the lilies of the field.) (John 15:26, ...whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me…)(See also Gen. 1:1-2 and John 1:1.)  Patrick preached for 30 years.  As time went on, much of the whole country was converted, and the people’s faith grew.  He died, supposedly on March 17th. 

            Though Patrick is usually associated with Catholicism, the story of his repentance and conversion, his missionary endeavor, and zeal, is an inspiration to all believers.


Do You Know?   Is God sovereign in our world right now?

  This is the third and last blog on the topic of “Sovereignty.”  I heard an old hymn today; I know I’ve said be careful about getting your theology from hymns and choruses, but this seemed right on for the sovereignty of God: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” (Martin Luther, Ein Feste Burg,1529.)

            Do You Know what a “bulwark” is…as in verse one, “never failing”?  An “above ground defensive structure that forms part of a fortification…a bastion, parapet, citadel, stronghold.” (The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus. Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster, N.Y., 1978.)  The rest of verse one describes our battle against Satan, but God is …“Our helper, He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing: For still our ancient foe doth seek to do us woe; his craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”  This suggests that Satan is supreme on earth. But, he cannot stand against the God.

            Verse two tells us that we can’t trust in our own strength, and that God’s chosen, Jesus, is on our side.  He is the “same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8. Christ must win.  We know in the end, He does. 

            Verse 3 continues, “And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us: The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him, his rage we can endure; for lo, his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.”

            Verse four says that, the word stands strong, in spite of earthly evil powers.  God has given us the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, and Christ is on our side.  Even if we die, God’s truth remains, and God’s kingdom is forever.  We can take courage from this truth.  God is ultimately in control.  Satan gets involved as much as possible to mess things up.  People make choices, hopefully within the will of God.  But, mistakes have consequences.  Though we struggle, we can prevail with Christ.

            Let’s look at the beginning and the end.  Do You Know the first four words in the Bible?  “In the beginning God….”  Genesis 1:1 God existed before the beginning.  If you add the 5th word, “created,” God is the author of all things.  Now, turn to Revelation 20:1-2 and 10; Satan ends up in the Pit.  “…be of good cheer; I (Christ) have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Further encouragement in the sovereignty of God:  Isaiah 33:22; Isaiah 43:13; I Chronicles 29:11-13; Psalm 103:19; Proverbs 16:1-4 and 9.  Luke 18:27; Acts 17:26-28; Romans 11:36; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 4:6; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:13-20; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 1:17-18; Rev. 22:17 and 20.

Do You Know? Is Satan at all Sovereign?

Satan, Lucifer, the fallen angel and his hoard, who is he or it? Does he have any control over what we do or what happens to us? Be careful as you learn about the devil, that you don’t get so involved and fearful that you forget “how great a salvation” we have in Christ our Lord.

First, let’s look at what Jesus said and saw. Luke 10:18, “And he (Jesus) said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’”

Isaiah 14:12 gives a description of what happened. Lucifer/Satan, an angel, wanted to be like God. Less familiar, Ezekiel 28:12, describes Lucifer’s created beauty and his ultimate pride. Sounds like “Pride goeth before the fall.” (Prov. 16:18) Some scholars think these verses apply to the earthly kings of Babylon and Tyre, but they certainly apply to Satan’s fall.

Satan is the ruler of this evil world. (John 14:30) The whole world is in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) He is the prince of the power of the air. (Eph. 2:2), and he tempts (Luke 4:5). He is our adversary, and prowls around seeking someone to devour/destroy (1 Peter 5:8). Satan blinds and veils the eyes of non-believers (2 Cor. 4:4).

But as Rev. Pink mentions, “…the created cannot thwart the Creator.” There is hope. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” 1 John 4:4b, “..He who is in you is greater that he who is in the world.” In 2 Chronicles 20:5 and following, Jehoshaphat’s prayer pleads with ”..the God in heaven.. (who) rules over all the kingdoms of the Thy hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee.”

So where does that leave us? Who is in control of the world? We need to look further into the Sovereignty of  God.  

The Mercy Speech

Do You Know?   Do you know by heart the “Mercy” speech from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice?  Food for thought.


                                                         The ‘mercy’ speech from

The Merchant of Venice.

The quality of mercy is not strained.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven on the place beneath.  It is twice blessed;  It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

It is mightiest in the mightiest.  It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown; His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. 

But, mercy is above the sceptred sway; It is enthrone in the hearts of kings.  It is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice.           Act IV, Scene 2.


Mercy is one of the attributes of God which we may demonstrate.

What does the Bible say about mercy? 

Matt 5:7  “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Mercy here can be defined as one showing “active pity.”  We can be merciful to others as the good Samaritan did in Luke 10:37.

Psalm 51:1 tells us it is because of God’s mercy that our sins are forgiven. 

In Luke 1:50 God’s mercy is bestowed upon those who fear (awe) Him.

Mark 5:19b.  shows that we should proclaim Christ’s mercy toward us.

Because of God’s mercy, He allows us to serve others (2 Cor. 4:1) through our various gifts. And, by His mercy we can remain faithful.  Mercy is one of the spiritual gifts, Romans 12:8.  It is showing kindness and caring for someone who is having physical, emotional or spiritual difficulties.  (It is different from exhortation which is more like kick you in the seat of your pants and get you doing what you know you should be doing.)  Mercy has been defined as “not getting what you should deserve.”  Because Christ has shown us mercy, we should show mercy to others. 

Food for Thought

How did you react to the mercy speech from The Merchant of Venice?                                         Have you shown mercy to someone recently?                                                                            What are your Spiritual gifts?  (There are several published Spiritual Gifts tests; if you do not know how God has gifted you, ask a staff member for a copy of a test, or check out the Internet.)

Some Characteristics of God

Do You Know?   Let’s start the New Year with a couple of items for pondering.   Do you know, or have you ever heard of, the two brothers Joseph and Richard Alleine?  The following thoughts are theirs. 

Some Characteristics of God

--from Heaven Opened, by Joseph Alleine and Richard Alleine

pp. 106-108 No Publication Information

(Joseph Alleine, the more prominent, lived for only 34 years in the mid-1600s in England.)

1.      My eternity shall be the date of your happiness. I am the eternal God, and while I am, I will be life and blessedness to you.

2.       My unchangeableness shall be the rock of your rest. When all the world is like the tumbling ocean round about you, here you may fix and settle.

3.      My omnipotence shall be your guard. I am God Almighty, your Protector and your Benefactor.

4.      My faithfulness shall be your security. My truth you will (never come off losers by Me.) reworded

5.      My mercies shall be your store. I am the Father of mercies, and such a Father I will be to you.

6.      My omniscience shall be your overseer. My eyes shall be ever open, observing your wants to relieve them and your wrongs to avenge them.

7.      My wisdom shall be your counsellor. If any lack wisdom, let him ask of Me, and it shall be given him. I will be your deliverer and a light to you.

8.      My justice shall be your avenger and rewarder. Fear not to approach; fury is not in Me.

9.      My omnipresence shall be company for you. Surely, I will be with you, to bless you.

10.  My holiness shall be a fountain of grace to you. I am the God of hope, the God of love, the God of patience, the author and finisher of faith, the God of all grace, and I will be grace to you.

11.  My sovereignty shall be commanded by you. You shall be My favorites…all My attributes shall be at the command of your prayers.

Do You Know the Seven Things God Hates?     Proverbs 6:16-19.

Haughty eyes  (aloof, indifferent, egotistic, contemptuous)

A lying tongue

Hands that shed blood

A heart that devises wicked plans

Feet that make haste to run to evil

A false witness who breathes out lies

A man (woman) who sows discord among brothers.                                                         

Are you guilty of any of these?  

Which of these as demonstrated during Christ’s arrest and trials?                                                                                                                                                                

While we’re in Proverbs, let’s look at a few other verses and add one more thing which somehow I thought was in the original list.

            Proverbs 8:13 adds, “…Pride and arrogance…I hate.

Proverbs 3:7 “Be not wise in your own eyes….”  Then, Romans 12:3 re-iterates this same pride problem, “…I bid everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…”

            Have you found one of these areas you’d ask God to help you conquer?

#18 Did you Know?  Epiphany, January 6th is Kings’ Day:  Do You Know how many Magi came to visit Jesus? 

            Is it Scriptural or tradition that lets us believe there were three Wise Men?  There’s that song about “We three Kings of Orient are… traveling…”  But, as far as I know, there is nothing in the Bible that says there are three or that says how many Magi actually came.  Surely, they had an entourage, so there would have been more than three men in their caravan:  servants, cameleers, baggage handlers.

            The kings, called magi, also referred to as magicians, astrologers, or astronomers, were likely followers of Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic belief with an uncreated Creator called the Illuminated Wisdom. It was this supreme being who fought evil, with the help of men leading a family- oriented, good life through good works and deeds.

            Isaiah 60:3 says, “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” KJV.    “Kings….shall offer gifts.  Yea, all kings shall fall down before him…”       Ps. 72:10b-11a  KJV.

            What about the kings is legend?  That there were three; their races (black, white, yellow); their names (Melchior, Balthasar, Gaspar); their ages (young, middle-aged, old).  We tend to place the wise men and the shepherds all together in the manger creche, but it is calculated from Scripture and history that the wise men arrived about two years after Christ’s birth. 

            Other than being expensive gifts, the gold, frankincense, and myrrh have interesting and important meanings.  Gold honors kings.  Frankincense is incense used by priests.  Myrrh was used as a burial spice for anointing.  Jesus Christ is King of kings; He is our high priest; He offered His life an atonement for our sin, was buried, and rose from the dead.  All of the gifts were symbolic and prophetic of Christ’s life and death.

            What shall we give Jesus for His birthday?   Often, we ask Jesus what He wants each of us to give Him for His birthday.  He could tell us through His Holy Spirit.  Would you ask Him, this year, what He wants you to give?  

Further references of interest: I Kings 10:1-2 and 14-21.  Daniel 3:1-5.  Isaiah 60:6b.   Song of Solomon 4: 13-14.  Exodus 30:23-25.  John 19:39.  Mark 15:23.

Did you know? Christmas, Do you “ponder?” Mary did.

               Each Advent season we receive a devotional booklet in the mail from the president of a college which we support. The cover painting was “The Annunciation.” There are thousands of paintings of the Annunciation: the announcement to Mary that she would bare God’s Son. This painting was different: Mary sits on a rumpled bed; she looks askance at someone outside of the painting. She is quiet, but skeptical; surely, she is pondering.

                Luke 2:19 says that Mary, after Jesus’ birth, kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then again in 2:51, after his parents find Jesus in the temple, Mary kept all these things in her heart. Let’s define “ponder:” consider, examine attentively or deliberately, appraise, evaluate, meditate on, brood over, reflect upon. (Merriam-Webster Thesaurus)

                We’re always thinking about something. Advent is a time to think more about God’s gift. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As he (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he…” KJV What are we supposed to think about? Whatever is: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8) “Do these things, and “the peace of God will be with you.” (4:9) We need to make time to ponder, especially now.

                Might we hear from God? In a “still small voice,” (1 Kings 9:12) Be still and wait patiently…” (Psalm 37:7a) “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

                The idea of “I Ponder as I Wander” obviously came from the song title: “I Wonder as I Wander.” I know we wander. What about wandering and wondering? The shepherds returned and told all the townspeople they met along the way about the new born Christ, and the people wondered, (Luke 2:17-18) Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when God does miracles. (Acts 3:6, 12) Or (Mark 15:4-5), (Isaiah 53:7), (James 4:3) you don’t receive answers because you ask with wrong motive.

                Some of the most moving words upon which to ponder, come from the recent song “Mary, Did I Know.” Mary,… “When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.”

                The mysteries, the miracles, there is much to ponder this season. Be still, be blessed.

#16 Jude, Conclusion 


            We conclude our 4-section study of Jude with verses 14-26.  V. 14, Who was Enoch?  He was the great-grandfather of * ____________  (See end for answer.)  There is a Book of Enoch written in the Ge’ez language of Ethiopia.  Verses 14-16 are paraphrased from that non-canonical book.  Enoch’s genealogy is mentioned in Genesis 4:18 and 5:18. The most we know of his spiritual life is in v. 24, “Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him.”  In this miraculous translation of Enoch, he never died, but was taken alive to Heaven.  (See 2 Kings 2:11.)  Verses 14-16, Enoch’s prophecy, are paraphrased from that non-canonical book.  And, 17-19 parallel these warnings in Jude’s words.  We often shame the worldly, but which of these descriptions best fits you?  How about grumbling or boasting?

            Verse 20, and onward, addresses the second theme of the book, Keeping the Faith.  Believers are called beloved.  We are encouraged to grow in holy faith, to pray in the Spirit, to wait for God’s mercy in the end, and to evangelize the lost and those “slipping” away.

            Finally, a well-beloved benediction (See also Numbers 6:24-26.)  Jesus keeps us and presents us faultless to God.  To Christ be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority forever.  This benediction is worth memorizing and worthy of our pondering.                                   *Noah

#15 Jude Content con’t


            We continue in Jude with verses 8-10.  Much of what Jude writes comes from other original sources used at that time, but not included in the Canon.  In a Jewish apocryphal book, “The Assumption of Moses,” now lost, Satan argues with the archangel Michael, wanting to claim Moses’ body, saying his body was matter and he, Satan, ruled matter.  However, God created matter.  Secondly, he reminds the archangel that Moses was a murderer, so therefore Satan should have Moses’ body.  Michael left the decision up to God.  (Other references regarding Satan and angels:  Dan. 10:13 and Zech. 3:1-3.)

            Verse 11; Cain, Balaam, Korah.  In Gen. 4:8 ff; Cain murders his brother Abel and is cursed to be a fugitive, v. 11 ff; Cain became the father of Enoch, v. 17.  As for Balaam, there are a couple of different accounts.  He was asked to curse the Israelites, and though he tried to refuse, reward lured him, and while riding with the princes of Moab, his donkey saw an angel and the donkey spoke.  Num. Chapters 22-24. Do you know who Korah is?   Numbers 16:1 ff, Korah and others rose up against Moses and Aaron v. 30 ff.  God opened the earth and swallowed them up.  (Also see Num. 26:9-10.)

            Are you beginning to see what Jude is trying to tell us with all of these examples?  OBEY God.

            Now we turn to a bit of poetry.  In verses 12-13, why do these examples have no value?  Referring again to false prophets and teachers, here is another test in identifying such.  They are like:  clouds without water; trees with withered fruit; raging waves; wandering stars.  Ponder on these.

Do you know what is discussed in Jude? Part 2

Not often is there a sermon or Bible study lesson on Jude which was written about 125 A.D.  Some of the content is difficult.  But let’s look at the greeting.  As we mentioned before, if Jude is the brother of James who is the brother of Jesus, then Jude would also be the brother of Jesus.  Imagine, we as believers, are beloved of God, and we are kept in his care.  God provides mercy, peace, and love.  How much we need those qualities. 

            In verse 3 we find that Jude changed his mind about what to write, or God impressed upon him to deal with another issue.  Rather than our common salvation, Jude writes about apostate persons coming into the congregations.   Some people distort doctrine to fit their own desires.  Skip down to verse 8, these pagans “defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones.” Could you recognize a false teacher today?  I’d probably call them a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”  (Also read Matthew 7:15-20.)  What are some false beliefs?  For example:  There is no hell.  If there were a hell, God is a loving God, and He wouldn’t send anyone to hell. What happens to false teachers as in Galatians 1:8-9, they are to be accursed.                            

            In verses 5, 6, and 7, Jude discusses three different past events.  In verse 5 Jude tells of God saving His people from Egypt, though they later disobeyed Him.  Remember, the blood on the doorposts is foreshadowing Christ’s shed blood for us. Verse 6 says some of the angels fell into sin and were punished.  (More on this topic later.)  In verse 7, the sin of the flesh is avenged and punished.  Genesis 19:1-2 says Lot’s guests in Sodom were angels.  (Here is another difficult topic of discussion for later.)  At any rate, these three examples are reminders to us to OBEY God. 

How much do you know about the book of Jude?  (In series)


Part I

Jude?  Jude Who? 

This small book is found right before the Revelation, and it is so small it doesn’t have chapters. 


How did Jude get put into the “Canon?”   What’s a “canon?”  Canon is Greek for ‘measuring stick.’  Canonicity was actually delivered by God not man, and the act of being chosen to be in the New Testament was done over a period of time.  In the 300’s several bishops from all around Christendom met on various occasions to deliberate about which writings should be included. 

Choice depended on:   the importance of the issue addressed; how the writing was accepted by the various churches; if it was sound doctrinally and morally—reflecting the orthodoxy of the early church; if it was prophetic; if it was dynamic and powerful; if it was written by an apostle or someone close to the event?

            Jude is the same name as Judas, a very common name then.  Supposedly, Jude was the brother of James, who was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and who also was the brother of Jesus; therefore, (one option) Jude was the brother of Jesus.  Some of this writing is taken from the Book of Enoch, part of the Apocrypha. What’s “apocrypha?” It is part of the Septuagint (Jewish writings,) accepted by Catholics as Scripture, but not accepted as Scripture by Protestants; it is the writings found in between the OT and the NT.  Some of Jude is similar to II Peter.  For instance, II Peter 2:1, and Jude verse 18.  See also, 2:4, v 6; 2:6, v 7; 2:9, v 6; 2:10, v 8; 2:11, v 9; 2:12, v 10; 2:13, v 12; 2:14, v 11; 2:15, v 11; 2:17, v 12-13; 2:18, v 16; 2:21, v 3; and, II Peter 3:3, Jude 18.   

            Jude was written to Greek speaking churches, to believers--the called, the beloved, the kept.  It was written about 125 AD.  Originally the author wrote of “our mutual faith” but then addressed the main problem of the day, “false teachers.”  So, the themes of the book are:  1. Evil doers will be punished, and 2. Keep strong in the faith.

            Come back next time and we’ll look at what is written in the book.  Blessings.



Do you know how William Shakespeare defined “mercy?  


                                                         The ‘mercy’ speech from

The Merchant of Venice.

The quality of mercy is not strained.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven on the place beneath.  It is twice blessed;  It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

It is mightiest in the mightiest.  It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown; His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. 

But, mercy is above the sceptred sway; It is enthrone in the hearts of kings.  It is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice.           Act IV, Scene 2.


Mercy is one of the attributes of God which we may demonstrate.

What does the Bible say about mercy? 

Matt 5:7  “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Mercy here can be defined as one showing “active pity.”  We can be merciful to others as the good Samaritan did in Luke 10:37.

Psalm 51:1 tells us it is because of God’s mercy that our sins are forgiven. 

In Luke 1:50 God’s mercy is bestowed upon those who fear (awe) Him.

Mark 5:19b.  shows that we should proclaim Christ’s mercy toward us.

Because of God’s mercy, He allows us to serve others (2 Cor. 4:1) through our various gifts. And, by His mercy we can remain faithful.  Mercy is one of the spiritual gifts, Romans 12:8.  It is showing kindness and caring for someone who is having physical, emotional or spiritual difficulties.  (It is different from exhortation which is more like kick you in the seat of your pants and get you doing what you know you should be doing.)  Mercy has been defined as “not getting what you should deserve.”  Because Christ has shown us mercy, we should show mercy to others. 

Food for Thought

How did you react to the mercy speech from The Merchant of Venice?                                         Have you shown mercy to someone recently?                                                                            What are your Spiritual gifts?  (There are several published Spiritual Gifts tests; if you do not know how God has gifted you, ask a staff member for a copy of a test, or check out the Internet.)

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!!!! 

Do you know which of the above animals is not mentioned in the Bible?*  Zoo-ology!  There are lots of animals in the Bible, not counting Noah’s Ark.  (Oh, by the way, do you know the name of Noah’s wife?)**

Lions: Let’s start with Jesus as the Lion of Judah, Rev. 5:5, “Weep not, lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered…”  Dan. 6:16-24 is probably the most famous scene with lions; because Daniel had prayed to his God, he was thrown into the lions’ den; but “Did You Know” the den was covered with a large stone and the king’s signet was put on the stone so that nothing could change Daniel’s fate?

Tigers:  ‘Tiger’ in very few translations, seems to be used only where most translations use lion or leopard.  Job 4:11; James 3:7; Jeremiah 5:6; Habakkuk 1:8.

and Bears: Oh my!  I Samuel 1:34, David had protected his father’s flocks from lions and bears, surely he could deal with Goliath.  In Daniel 7:5, he shares his vision with the king, including lions and bears; the bear probably represents the Medes and Persians who were voracious and cruel.  (silver, see Daniel 2.3) 

Horses: “Did you Know” that in Job 39:19-25 there is a detailed description of a horse?        Exodus 15:1-3 and 21 Miriam’s song of the horse and rider into the sea; James 3:3 says, we can bridle a horse, but not our tongue; 2 Chron. 9:25, describes Solomon’s wealth in horses and chariots, and stables; Rev. 6 The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse:  white horse and rider, to conquer; red horse, to remove peace; black horse, famine; pale horse, Death.

Dogs:  dogs are always bad when they appear in the Bible; not the cuddly furry pets we love.   One vivid description is I Kings 21:19 and 23-26, dogs lick the blood and eat Jezebel.  In the rich man and Lazarus, he begged only crumbs, and the dogs licked his sores, Luke 16:20. Also see Matt. 15:25-28.  In Judges 7:4-5, God had Gideon test the soldiers to find who lapped the water as a dog, and therefore did not keep watch.   Isaiah 26:10-11 gives a good description of dogs.     Here’s a good Proverb to end with in 26:17, “He who meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.”                        

And more…There are ravens, storks, and roosters; there’s even a gnat (Matt. 23:23-24) and a leech (Prov. 30:15-16.)  Then, there are the donkey, ass, colt; wolf and fox; swine and pigs, etc.

Lamb, sheep, ram:  Genesis 22:13, the ram caught in the thicket, an offering rather than Isaac. Luke 2:8 the shepherds and sheep at the annunciation of Christ’s birth. John 10:27 Jesus says that His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him;    John 21:16 Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep.                                                                             

But, best of all is the Lamb!  John 1:29 and 36, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  2 Peter 1:19 the Lamb without blemish….Who … lay down His life for His sheep. John 10:15                                                                                                                     

Readers, “Behold the Lamb.”                                       

 *Answer:  tigers;    ** Answer: “Joan of Arc”  Ha, ha.




Which Witch?


Do you know where the best Halloween story in the Bible is found?

            Now don’t get upset; think back to when we were kids—it was a fun time.  Nowadays it has changed a lot, and adults have evolved the holiday into one more evil in nature.  Originally, Halloween or Hallowed Evening was religious, the evening before All Saints’ Day, November 1st.  But, let’s get back to the witch. 

            Look up I Samuel 28: starting in verse 3; it’s the story of the Witch of Endor.  Main characters are:  the witch, King Saul, and God’s prophet Samuel, but he’s dead.  Saul had outlawed witches and wizards; Samuel had died; the Philistines had gathered to make war against Israel; and the Lord had not answer Saul’s prayers.  So, under the circumstances, King Saul took things into his own hands and asked his servant to find him a medium--a witch!  Saul disguised himself and went to the witch of Endor, but she hesitated, knowing the law, and fearing for her life if she were to conjure up a dead soul.  Saul assured her no harm would come to her.  He requested Samuel. When the witch saw Samuel coming to her, she then recognized King Saul.  And, he recognized Samuel.

            Of course, Samuel was upset that he had been disturbed, but Saul explains his problems and asks for advice.  Samuel tells him in so many words, ‘Well, … if you had obeyed God in the first place…..’  Then Samuel shares the facts.  Saul gets more than he bargained for:  God has turned away from you; He is going to give your kingdom to David; the Lord will give Israel into the hands of the Philistines.  Then, the final blow, and tomorrow you and your sons will be dead!

            Saul was so terrified, he fell to the ground.  Even so, the witch showed hospitality to the King and made food for him to strengthen him on his return trip.  Now, if you read down in Ch. 31:1-7, you’ll find all that Samuel had predicted came true.  To make matters worse, in verses 8 to the end, Saul is beheaded by his enemies, and his body is nailed to the city wall.

            What lessons can we learn from this “witch” story?  Obey God.  Obey the laws.  Do not even dabble in witchcraft.  But, do continue to show hospitality.  The Scripture doesn’t say, but I think the witch packed up her tent and moved on out of the area. 

            Use this Halloween time to share this story with family and emphasize to your listeners the importance of obeying God.  Enjoy the candy.

Do you know how many Heavens there are according to the Bible?

     When most people think about heaven, they think of going to be with Jesus upon death.   But, the Bible describes three heavens.   Closest to the earth is the atmosphere:  the air we breathe, where birds and airplanes fly, where clouds hang out, etc.  The second heaven we might call the universe:  the location of the sun and planets and other galaxies, the cosmos.  The third heaven is the holy home of God and His throne, where we go to be with Christ, it’s the realm of the angels.  I would almost add a final heaven, because we are also told that when Christ returns, we will reign with Him forever in a new heaven and a new earth. 

First.  At creation, God separated the “waters which were under the firmament (the arch of the sky) from the waters that were above the firmament….and He called the firmament Heaven.  Genesis 1:7-8.  A favorite verse is Deuteronomy 32:2; Moses is speaking to the people, “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.”

Second.  Genesis 1:15 says, “…let there be lights in the firmament of Heaven…the greater to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night, and he made the stars also.”  Psalm 19:1 says that, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.”  Have you seen some of the photos from NASA?  Awesome!  How could anyone not believe in the Creator?

Third.   Scripture tells us a lot about the 3rd Heaven.  It is the abode of God.  Christ came from Heaven; Christ ascended into Heaven; the angels are in Heaven; the saints will go to Heaven, and are rewarded in Heaven.  In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul tells of a man, possibly himself, who was ‘caught up into the third heaven’.

            As for the new heaven, I Thessalonians 4 and 5 tell us that both those who have already died, and those who are alive at the time of Christ’s return, will “rise….and be caught up together …in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”  I Corinthians 15 speaks of our resurrected body, immortal and imperishable.  And, Revelation 21:1 ff describes the new heaven and the new earth.  God comes down to dwell with His people.

                                                            *          *          *

            A question came up the other day in our Ladies’ Bible Study about Ephesians 6:12; it (RSV) says, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.”  (KJV says “high places.”)  With a new understanding of the three heavens mentioned, theologians say that here, “heavenly” refers to the first heaven.  Satan is called “the prince of the power of the air,” Eph. 2:2.  Satan watches for opportunities to attack even the most spiritual of believers.  Satan also “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy.” I Peter 5:8   Satan tries to obstruct our communion with God by attempting to attack us as we contemplate heavenly things.  (Heavenly things may also be considered our blessings. {Benson})  But, remember, Satan is fallen.  Isaiah 14:12 calls Satan by his name Lucifer which means Light, vv 13 ff, tell of his desire to be above God and of his fall “to the depths of the Pit.”  In Luke 10:18 Jesus says that He “saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Though Satan is ultimate evil, we know that in the end, Almighty God wins the war.

How Much Do You Know About The Temple?

There are lots of resources with information about the temples, and you've probably studied about the Outer Court, the Inner Court, and the Holy of Holies where only the high priest entered once per year. Here are a few "Did You Know?" questions: (The answers will be at the bottom of the article.) 

1. What were the measurements of the Holy of Holies? 
2. In which direction did the altar face?
3. What is the Jewish word for the Day of Atonement?
4. Was it lit on the inside of the Holy of Holies?
5. Where on the Ark was the Mercy Seat located?
6. What element covered the Ark?
7. What images are on the sides of the top of the Ark?

A few years ago, a lovely Petra song was released. At that time, our Christian Jewish worship leader shared it with our congregation. The song is called, "Take Me In." Here are some of the words: 

Take me past the outer courts, into the Holy place, past the altar Lord, I want to see your face. Pass my by the crowds of people, the priests who sing your praise, (**past the brazen altar) I hunger and thirst for your righteousness, and it's only found one place. Take me into the Holy of Holies, take me in by the blood of the Lamb, take me in to the Holy of Holies, take the coal, cleanse my lips, here I am.

These lyrics are thought provoking to say the least. Let's take a closer look at them and find Scripture to help clarify the lyrics. Do you want to know God more? Do you dare ask God to take you into the Holy of Holies? Exodus 25:22 tells us, "There I will meet with you...I will speak with you..." Psalm 80:1 says, "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel...Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth..." God inhabited the Holy of Holies.

What would be some of the dangers to us if we asked God to take us into the Holy of Holies? What would be some of the benefits?

I've heard it said that we should seek God's face, to know Him more, not just seek His hand for what He can do for us. But, if we see His face, could we die? Exodus 19:21 says, "...warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to gaze and many of them perish." Exodus 33:23 says, "...while my glory passes..I shall cover you with my hand...then you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."

Could I know more of God that the average Christian or even the pastors and priests? Psalm 65:4 says, "Blessed is he who thou dost choose and bring near to dwell in thy courts." 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."  1 Peter 2:4, " a holy priesthood.."

The altar is for the sacrifice; what would I give up to know my God more? In Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary, a "sacrifice" is defined as: 1. giving up or permitting injury to something cherished; 2. an offering to a deity; 3. a loss. Genesis 22:9 says, "...and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar.." Romans 12:1, "...present your bodies as a LIVING sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Micah 6, "With what... burnt first born... (no.) He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."

Most of us need cleaner lips; God knows what we say. James 3:6 says, "The tongue is a unrighteous world of iniquity among our members, staining the whole body, ... set on fire by hell." Matthew 15:18, "But, what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man.: Romans 1 lists "gossips and slanderers'" right along with murderers, foolish, heartless, and ruthless..."those who deserve to die." We must carefully consider our words.

Yes, we do hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are blessed. Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." John 4:14, "...whoever drinks of the water I shall give him will never will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Righteousness is found in the power of Christ's blood. Christ is the sacrificial Lamb. Only the Lamb of God is worthy to save us for Himself. Romans 14:17, "..the kingdom of God is... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 10:3, "....righteousness comes from God..." Romans 1:30, "...Jesus Christ, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption..."

In conclusion, let us carefully consider if we dare ask God to take us into His "Holy of Holies."

**Lyrics are out of order

*Quiz Answers: 1. 20 cubits x 20 cubits x 20 cubits, 2. West, 3. Yom Kippur, 4. No, it was dark, 5. the top lid, 6. Gold, 7. Two Cherubim

Did You Know? "Kingdomtide"

The Ordinary Times


            Do you know what “the ordinary times are?  Another name for this time of year is “Kingdomtide.”  This is the time of year between the major Christian celebrations; it is summertime.  It is the time between Pentecost (the 50 days after Easter) and thru to Advent (the month preceding Christmas.)  These are the days for living out our faith.  No holidays to prepare for, no extra shopping, a time for a change of pace, and bit of relaxation.  We are still in Kingdomtide up til about Thanksgiving, so here are some organized, real-life, ideals and characteristics that Jesus wants you to develop.  These are not suggestions, these are (Imperatives) commands.  All of the following are found in Hebrews chapters 12 and 13.  Rank yourself on how well you think you do on each item.  Next time I’ll add more scripture verses to back up these Christ-given imperatives. 

From Hebrew 12

Verse 11 Accept discipline.  Wow, what a one to start with!

14  Pursue peace.

15  Avoid bitterness.

16 Be moral.

17 Repent while you still can.

25 Accept Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

28 Thank God for your salvation.

28 Worship. Serve. Be reverent and in awe.

How are you doing so far?  Ready for Chapter 13?

Verse 1 Continue in brotherly love.

2 Show hospitality.

3 Remember those in prison.

4 Hold marriage sacred.

5 Don’t love money, be content.

6 Don’t be afraid.

7 Remember your leaders and follow their good example.

9 Hold on to correct doctrine.

13 Be willing to endure abuse for Christ’s sake.

14b Have hope in Heaven.

15  Praise God in your speech.

16 Do good.  Share.

17 Obey the authorities.

18 Pray.

21 Be equipped to do God’s will.

22 Welcome words of exhortation.

24 Greet all the believers.





Casting Crowns

We’ve looked at what the Bible says about the five crowns we can earn as rewards from Jesus for our service to Him.  What do we do with these crowns as we approach the Throne in Heaven?  There is very little Scripture to explain this, but we need to look at Revelation 4:4 and 4:10-11.  There are 24 elders with crowns on their heads, and they cast their crowns in front of Christ’s throne, and they worship Him.  (Let me put a disclaimer here:  we need to be sure we don’t necessarily get our theology from hymns carols, or choruses:  “casting crowns.”  Some hymn lyrics are right on theologically, but others are misleading or are based on legend; for example, “We three kings of Orient are…”)                                                                                                              Many Bible scholars interpret the 24 elders as representing all Christian believers.  This makes sense since most of us will have crowns, or at least one crown, to present to the King of Kings when we kneel before Him.  However, we won’t need crowns in Heaven.  There is one King of all Kings, one Lord of all Lords, one perfect sacrifice—God the Son.  He is the only one who will be entitled to wear a crown in Heaven.  Our crowns represent our service to our Lord, so we give them as a gift to Him.  Our crowns are our thank you to Him for all He has done for us, not only our salvation, but our justification, and our sanctification, day by day, during our earthly life.           As I was reading this passage in a different Bible, I notice that midway in these Scriptures, around verse 9, the tense of the verbs changes from past to present.  Much of the beginning of chapter 4 is description, but using the present tense indicates that the casting of crowns and the praise is now, and continues always.  In Heaven, we always praise.  Jesus Christ only is worthy.  Let’s begin our praise here and now.