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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

PROVERBS 1:1

"The proverbs of Solomon
the son of David, king of Israel."

What is a proverb?  "A pithy (having substance and point, concise) popular sayings; adage."
Throw that in with the weight behind it as the Word of God, it is enough to make one sit up straight and listen.  However, we must also remember that the Bible is also history, "His story."  As such, it gives unfiltered, just as it is, revelation of the true nature of people. 




Take for instance,  Solomon.  He had more going for him than just about anybody who has ever lived.  He had a father whom God considered a man after His own heart.  He was living in the glow.  Solomon inherited a kingdom his father had left him, after years of war, a prospect of peace.  In fact, God was so pleased with him that He came to Solomon in a dream and offered to grant him whatever he would ask for whether for long life, health, wealth, and prosperity.  But the young man asked for wisdom.  God was so proud of this man that He granted him not only wisdom, but a promise of wealth.  (I Kings 3:3-14)



"Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statues of his father David...'Ask what you wish me to give you....'  yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen...So give your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?'  It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.  God said to him, 'Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold I have done according to your words.  Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.  I have given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the king like you all your days.  If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father avid walked, then I will prolong your days.'"


I've told the story before when Jay was asked when he was in first or second grade what he would ask for if he could ask for anything he wanted.  He said with a dreamy look in his eye, "I would ask for wisdom because when Solomon asked for it, he got riches too!"  Smart boy!


So, Solomon wrote a book of proverbs that has been part of the best selling book in all of history, the Bible.  We can take to heart these proverbs even though later the man became corrupted by taking foreign wives, 700 in fact, not including 300 concubines. Now, for a smart man, that has to be one of the stupidest things a man could do.  Of course, there are those men who would salivate about that opportunity.  That "bliss" is promised those in Islam who become martyrs.  In fact, in modern day Swaziland, the king there added to his harem all the time: every family had to offer a daughter as a possible choice to be considered; offerings were taken to help Christians be able to buy a cow to redeem their daughter from this situation.  This was not how God designed marriage for one man and one woman in the Garden.  David, Abraham, and other Biblical heroes were not good examples in this department.  Yet Solomon took it to the extreme, which became his downfall: sex has a way of doing that.

Nevertheless, his words of wisdom in this book are to be instructive.  So we will begin looking at them soon, as soon as my new laptop arrives because right now I'm fighting a losing battle with my current one which means I can only write a paragraph or two before it gives up the ghost for the day.  So I'll quickly post this before it quits on me again!

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

HEBREWS 13:23-25 

"Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty;
with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
Salute all them that have the rule over you,
and all the saints. 
They of Italy salute you.
Grace be with you all. Amen."


I am concluding Hebrews.  Wow.  I did it by the sweat of my brow, if someone can sweat while sitting in air conditioning with finger glued to a laptop.  Writing this blog is what gets me out of bed, to grab a cup of coffee and to do my devotions with.  I hope you have enjoyed coming along. 



Church of Santa Maria della  Salute

Salute 
(Saluti)

Salute is an Italian greeting which has become universal, probably from some latin root which I don't know.  Even Italian restaurants are named Salute, or cheers!  But this makes me believe Paul is the writer who is writing from Italy, thus writing from prison.  But Timothy is now set free, which means it is time for him to leave Paul.  How hard that must be to part ways, knowing they would not see each other until they were in glory.  But Paul knew Timothy would be his eyes and ears as he arrived to visit this group of displaced people, the Christian Hebrews and would be waiting for a letter sent back to him.  "It appears in Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, that he was with Paul during the greatest part of the time." (Adam Clarke) 
 

"Salute all those that have the rule over you, and the saints...They of Italy salute you.  The NASV translates it, "Greet,"  but I like the little Italian thrown in, Salute.  They of Italy "probably means the Jews who had embraced the Christian faith.  These salutations show that a brotherly feeling existed in every part of the Christian Church; even those who had not seen each other yet loved one another, and felt deeply interested for each other's welfare." (Adam Clarke)



"Greet...all the saints."  Saints, literally "holy ones," "But a Christian was then a saint, i.e. by profession (professing, confessing to be) a holy person; and most of the primitive Christians were actually such.  But in process of time the term as applied to all that bore the Christian name; as 'elect, holy people, sanctified, etc., were to the nation of Jews (non-Christian Jews), when both their piety and morality were at a very low ebb."  Adam Clarke



So Timothy and Paul had to part ways, as painful as it was since Paul seemed to have taken him as a son.  I enjoyed the "Pickles" cartoon in our paper today when the grandson asks,"Can we go somewhere fun today, Grampa?"  He answers, "Someone once said, 'No matter where you go, or what you do you live your entire life within the confines of your head.'  So it doesn't really matter where you go.  Just have fun inside your head.  Right now I'm on a tropical island and you're a monkey who's going to bring me a cold beverage."  Alrighty then, Paul would keep Timothy close to his heart whether he was still there or not.  He also expected if Timothy comes soon, "I will see you."  By letter, Paul hoped knowing Timothy would be his eyes and ears for him to treasure these things in his heart while sitting in a jail cell.  (If he was released 'on his own recognizant, he would be living someone handcuffed to a Roman soldier which might make it difficult to write.  Imagine writing the epistle of Hebrews while handcuffed to that soldier.)



Place of Paul's Arrest?

"Grace be with you all."  The southern translation is, "Grace be with y'all."  "May the Divine favour ever rest upon you and among you; and may you receive, from that source of all good, whatsoever is calculated to make you wise, holy, useful, and happy!  And may you be enabled to persevere in the truth to the end of your lives!  Amen.  May it be so!" (Adam Clarke)



Well, my friends, grace be with you.  I have finished the book of Hebrews precisely as we fly away to Virginia for ten days.  I will not be blogging during that time, although I will be posting pictures on facebook as we bury my husband's aunt and uncle in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery as well as when we visit historic sites, especially those of family history significance. 





Saturday, July 8, 2017

HEBREWS 13:22

"But I urge you brethren,
bear with (listen to) this word of exhortation,
for I have written to you briefly."


 You Brethren...

He counted them as one of his people, his tribe.  They may have been part of the Diaspora, a displaced people.  The writer may be Paul in prison.  But whoever it was knew they were all in this facing persecution together.  It meant that they needed this exhortation like a shot in the arm.  Have you found these Scripture to come alive to strengthen you in your being?

The writer to this epistle thinks he wrote briefly.  Ha!  I know that every time I write my puny blog, I strive to keep it short.  Ha!  But he had a lot more good stuff to say, because, you know, it was God-breathed Scripture.  You can't get enough of that!  I will admit that this "brief" word of exhortation in the book of Hebrews was very difficult for me to go through, as beautiful as it was.  However, it has become almost shiver-worthy when it is in my heart and in my mind as I hear sermons or other Scripture spoken, which show how apropos and rich it is.  It is as Andrew Murray describes as "breathing the law of God and the Spirit of heaven into your heart, as your very life!"



One verse kept ringing in my head this morning.  It was from II Corinthians 1:20...

"For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes;
therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us."
Yes and amen in Him.  That should be our response to hearing God's word.
That is what happens to a totally surrendered heart. 
It does not chaff or question or struggle against
God's exhortations to us through Scripture.
First of all we need to believe the Bible,
that all God's Word is true.
(II Samuel 7:28)
"Your word is truth."
(John 17:17)
So listen up!



The dictionary definition of exhortation is,

"to urge, advise, or warn earnestly."

"The word he used means both admonition or reproof and encouragement."
(Andrew Murray)

"Suffer the word of exhortation"
(KJV)




Jesus used to often say, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  It obviously was a favorite phrase as found in Matthew 11:15; Mark 13:9, 38; Mark 4, 9,23, 7:16; Luke 8:8, 14;35 repeatedly.





Take heed!
"bear with this exhortation"
It is interesting that this earnest plea is at the end rather than at the beginning.  Probably because it is in an epistle, a letter which could be read repeatedly.  This is true of all Scripture.  It is all meant to be read over and over again because there is always something new found therein.  Of course!  All Scripture is God-breathed, which means that God is having a constant conversation with His readers.  So, do not close your ears as Scripture warns! 



Andrew Murray writes, "its tone has been one of faithful reproof, with a view to convict of sin, to awaken to a sense of danger, to urge to repentance.  At the same time, everything has been done to quicken faith and hope, and to urge to steadfastness by pointing to the strong encouragement to be found in the word of God and the power of Christ."


So, heads up buttercup!  Drop your socks and listen up!










Friday, July 7, 2017

HEBREWS 13:20, 21

"Now may the God of peace...
equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in you that working in us
that which is pleasing in His sight,
through  Jesus Christ,
to whom be the glory forever and ever.
Amen."


We were tired of grocery store fruit, probably imported from out of the country, so we finally stopped by a fruit seller to buy cherries, one of those moments we actually had cash on us to make the purchase.  We missed cherry season.  What!  We settled for unripe peaches.  The fruit we wanted did not last, and we were displeased.



Who would turn that offer down, an offer to equip you in every good thing?  We are all sent out there to work since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden, by the sweat of our brow.  But as God's Church,  the result of what we do when He equips us is to enjoy "the fruit that remains."


"You did not choose Me
but I chose you,
and appointed you that you
would go and bear fruit,
and that your fruit would remain."
(John 15:16)



This is my husband's life verse for ministry, the fruit that remains. Living in orchard country, we know when the fruit is endangered by weather or pests.   It is not as easy as it seems to produce fruit.  We also often see whole orchards with trees dug up, roots pointing up to the heavens, a sad sight. As much as we enjoy seeing the flowering fruit trees, the growing fruit, it is all for one purpose, to produce a harvest, a fruit that remains which is ripe and luscious.


So in my imagination when reading this verse, I imagine God handing out hoes to the workers, maybe later ladders and baskets to pick the fruit or workers hoeing the rows then bending over to gather the crop.  But God is offering to work in us that which is pleasing in His sight.   When His
Spirit is given to live in us, to work in us, it is an invitation back to the Garden in that we can walk with God in fellowship.  What is pleasing in His sight, not hiding in the bushes covering ourselves with fig leaves. 

The KJV says, "Make you perfect in every good work."  Adam Clarke says the word means "Put you completely in joint."  My great-grandfather had terrible epilepsy that threw his shoulder out of joint so often that the muscles would no longer hold it where it should be.  After many prayers of God's saints, he was healed of his epilepsy.  An out of joint shoulder joint, or any other, is extremely painful.  It happened to our son twice in sports.  It happened to the lady on the other side of the curtain in the E.R.  We listened while the team of doctor and nurses did the physical procedure to put the joint back in place.  There was immediate relief.  We want to be completely in joint with God's will.  Being out of joint from His will is painful.






Then the commentator says, "'To whom be glory forever.' ...to Him be the honour of His own work  ascribed through tie and eternity."  The glory is just the radiance of all He does and is.





Thursday, July 6, 2017

HEBREWS 13:20-21





"Now the God of peace...
equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory
for ever and ever."




I've seen the shepherd and the sheep above timberline before like this.  It bring back the memories of the sheep calling noisily to each other, some sounding so much like a person calling, "Help!" that it made us want to search for an injured hiker.  However, as we paused, we realized that it was only a sheep's voice with which the shepherd was familiar. 


Last post I addressed the first part, "Now the God of peace."  But this same God has something in mind for you, to equip you in every good thing."  I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty good.  What will that look like in your life?  I'd guess that it is a little different in every Christian's life.  Again, I refer you back to one of my favorite verses in Scripture, James 1:17 when it says,
"Every good thing and  every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. "
May I conclude that being equipped is a perfect gift from our Father?  There are the fruits of the Spirit, then there are the gifts.



"Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,
each of us is to exercise them accordingly:
if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
if service, in his serving;
or he who teaches , in his teaching;
or he who exhorts, in his exhortation;
he who gives, with liberality;
he who leads, with diligence;
he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."
(Romans 12:6-8)




Did you think that the purpose of the gift God has gifted you with is "to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight"?   How's that working for you?  My six year old granddaughter is a little obsessed with being sick after having a traumatic bout of a terrible virus.  While visiting this past Sunday, she kept asking me, "Grandma, is anyone sick?"  "No."  "Has anyone thrown up?"  "No."  "How's your breathing?"  "I'm fine."  "Good, that means you're not going to die right now and will be alright for a while."  Yep.  As long as I am still breathing, God has a good work to do through me.  My desire as long as I still have breath, is to be well pleasing so that He may say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."


The King James Version says, "Now the God of peace...make you perfect in every good work."


Adam Clarke says, "'Make you perfect'...They were to do the will of God in every good work, from God working in them that which is well pleasing in His sight.  1. This necessarily implies a complete change in the whole soul, that God may be well pleased with whatsoever He sees in it; and this supposes its being cleansed from all sin, for God's sight cannot be pleased with anything that is unholy.  2.  This complete inward purity is to produced by the blood of the everlasting covenant; for although God is love, yet it is not consistent with His justice or holiness to communicate any good to mankind but through His Son, and through Him as having died for the offences of the human race."



This is referring to entire sanctification, being cleansed so we can be a pure vessel to be filled with the Spirit.  Just as we would hesitate to drink from any vessel that was dirty though filled with sparkling water, we know that it would contaminate it.  God is like that.  We cannot be perfect in every good work...well pleasing in His sight' without this purity.  This does not mean God puts on His magic sunglasses so that He cannot see the sin still in us.  This means the whole purpose of sending His Son was to make it possible to be able to enter the Holy of Holies when the curtain was torn in the temple upon His death, to be able to have a cleansed, having a perfect heart before Him and to be empowered to do His will and work and be well pleasing in His sight."



Then Adam Clarke says, "'To whom be glory forever.'  A God does all in, by, and through Christ Jesus, to Him be the honour of His own work ascribed through time and eternity.  Amen."





Wednesday, July 5, 2017

HEBREWS 13:20

"Now the God of peace,
who brought up from the dead
the great Shepherd of the sheep
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus Christ our Lord."



In a most inexplicable divine solution to the great chasm that separates us here below from the great Beyond, God made peace.  But the peace was not free.  It cost the blood of His only Son.  But  this reconciliation was provided in the peace that grants us entrance into His kingdom!  So, we can lay down our burdens, and quit fighting God.  Peace.  A God who can bring One up from the dead, is powerful stuff.  The sheep without a shepherd are lost.  Sheep are not the smartest creatures on the planet, but that's who the Bible compares us to.  But God brought our great Shepherd back to life.





Can you imagine how lost the disciples felt without their Leader?  Can you imagine how lost those in the Upper Room felt?  But God not only resurrected the great Shepherd of the sheep, He sent His Holy Spirit to be a helper, a comforter, and One to bring remembrance of His words.  This is a eternal covenant, without an expiration date, that leads us onward into eternity, where we will meet our Lord face to face.  Yeah, that kind of eternal covenant.





Sometimes we forget as we rub shoulders with the world, that this eternal covenant is for all.  The great Shepherd of the sheep did not want any to perish.  He is all about resurrecting deadness of sin into new life.  Sunday we had a great testimony of one who was resurrected.




Bryan, unwanted at birth, was adopted, but looked everywhere to find family his whole life until drugs became his brother.  Growing up just a block from our church, his first kiss was by our very walls.   He was a Marysville kid.  However, three marriages and children left behind, dishonorably discharged because he was found  with drugs just a month before his four year tour was ended later, he became homeless for twenty-five years in our river bottoms.  God sent a dog to be his companion, one who God used to convict him of his sin, his drug use.  Then the flood happened this year and his home he had carved out for himself in the bushes in "the jungle" was washed away.  Whatever was not lost then was bulldozed because it was such a rat infested dark place of drug use and crime.  Bryan went to the mission.  There he met Christ.  Bryon recently has become a shining member in our worship team at church.  After giving his testimony in church, he sang a song he had written. 



Our Great Shepherd went after a lost lamb and found him.  Because God resurrected our Great Shepherd, it is possible for us to be resurrected from the deadness of sin.  He found a gift, a talent, to be used for His glory.  But when Bryan's guitar string broke and he didn't have money to replace it, my son brought his Christmas present guitar to church to be played by Bryan in worship.  The gift keeps giving.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

Just as Hebrews 13:21 says,
"...to whom be the glory forever and ever.  Amen."


"Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle."
(Psalm 24:8)

"His glory that transfigures you and me."



The Star Spangled Banner is still sung before
our children's baseball and softball games.





Even though we did not sing it in our worship service this past week, this hymn has been a favorite of mine since childhood, as long as I have been slightly obsessed with the Civil War.  So I looked up its story in the book, "Then Sings My Soul."  I'm talking about "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

(This is not Julia Howe)

The hymn was "written by Julia Ward Howe, a leader in women's rights and a ardent foe of slavery.  Julia, who came from a wealthy New York family, was married to prominent Boston philanthropist and humanitarian, Dr. S.G. Howe." 



"In 1861, during the darkest days of the Civil War, the Howes visited Washington, and Julia toured a nearby Union Army Camp on the Potomac in Virginia.  There she heard soldiers singing a tribute to John Brown, who had been hanged in 1859 for attempting to lead an insurrection of slaves at Harper's Ferry: 'John Brown's Body Lies a-mold'ring in the Grave.'  The music was rousing, but the words needed improvement.  Julia's pastor, who accompanied her, asked her to consider writing new and better verses.  That night, after the Howes retired to their room at the Willard Hotel, the words came."



"I went to bed and slept as usual, but awoke the next morning in the gray of the early dawn, and to my astonishment found that the wished-for lines were arranging themselves in my brain.  I lay quite still until the last verse had completed itself in my thoughts, then hastily arose, saying to myself, I shall lose this if I don't write it down immediately.  I searched for an old sheet of paper and an old stub of a pen which I had had the night before and began to scrawl the lines almost without looking, as I learned to do by often scratching down verses in the darkened room when my children were sleeping.  Having completed this, I lay down again and fell to sleep, but not before feeling that something of importance had happened to me."



Julia gave her song to a friend who worked at the 'Atlantic Monthly.'  The magazine published it in 1862, sending her a check for five dollars." 

I can't sing this hymn without tears blurring my eyes...



"BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC"

"1.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword,
His truth is marching on.

2.  I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
Hs day is marching on.

3.  He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
O be swift, my soul, to answer Him!  Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

4.  In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His Truth is marching on.





Glory!




Okay, the last verse got me once again and made tears pool in my eyes, speaking of His glory that transfigures you and me.  Earlier verses picturing those hundred circling camps always makes me feel the fear, the longing, the pain, the ache of war around the campfire in the dews and damps.  The price so many paid was with their blood for freedom, like their Savior.  You know this version later was sung in camp instead of John Brown's ditty, same music though, making it a holy cause.  Why else would men die?  It wasn't over their pocket book, but over a moral cause to end slavery. 



God bless America!