Monday, February 28, 2011



     "and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world,  received up into glory." (KJV)

 Within this single verse, the apostle Paul fully describes and enumerates the one-and-only status of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  The Son of God came to earth in a human body... He tabernacled among us. Jesus fulfilled many of the prophesies of the old testament at birth. Others, He will fulfill at His second coming. Here are seventeen prophecies from the Old Covenant (Testament),  their fulfillment in the New Covenant (Testament), and, the probability of this happening "by chance".  I am not going to write these out; it would make this post much too long and detailed; but, if the reader doubts any of these, please take the time to look up the references  provided.

     The Laws of Probability:  If you study statistics, you will find that there are mathematical laws and theories governing the odds of an event occurring.  The probability of a single event occurring is one chance in five;  the probability of a second event is also one in ten;  the combined odds of both events occurring together in sequence is five multiplied by ten. Therefore, the odds of the two events occurring in sequence is fifty.  If I toss a coin in the air - "heads or tails" - the odds are one out of two (50%) that I will get "heads".  But, suppose I toss two coins in a row.  What are the odds of my getting heads" twice? The answer is only one chance in four (25%). The combined odds are 2 x 2 = 4. Now, what if I tossed the coin ten times? What would the odds be that I would get "heads" all ten times?  Here is the calculation and the answer:
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2  = 1,024.

John the Baptist
#1: Old Testament prophecy:  He would be born in Bethlehem and be descended from the tribe of Judah. (Micah 5:2, and Genesis 49:10)   New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 2:1  Probability: 1 chance in 2400

#2: Old Testament prophecy: A messenger would precede the Messiah. (Isaiah 40:3)  New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 3:1,2    Probability:  1 chance in 20

To calculate the combined probability of these two predictions, we must multiply 2,400 x 20, which equals 1 chance in 48,000 that Jesus would fulfill both predictions by chance.

#3:Old Testament prophecy: He would enter Jerusalem on a colt. (Zechariah 9:9)  New Testament fulfillment:
Luke 19:35-37.  Probability: 1 chance in 50.

The odds of these three prophecies happening "at random" are 50 X 48,000 = 1 chance in 2,400,000 that Jesus would fulfill all three of these prophecies.

#4: Old Testament prediction: He would be betrayed by a friend. (Psalm 41:9)  New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 26:47,48    Probability: 1 chance in 10.

The combined probability for these four prophecies is 1 chance in 2.4 million.

#5: Old Testament prophesy: His hands and feet would be pierced. (Psalm 22:16)  New Testament fulfillment: Luke 23:33.  Probability : 1 chance in 100

The combined odds of these five prophecies being fulfilled by one person:  1 chance in 2.4 Billion

#6: Old Testament prediction: His enemies would wound the Messiah. (Isaiah 54:5) New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 27:26.  Probability: 1 chance in 10.

Combined probability =  1 chance in 24 Billion

#7: Old Testament prophecy: He would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12)  New Testament fulfillment:  Matthew 26:15.  Probability: 1 chance in 50.

Combined probability = one in 1 Trillion, 200 Billion against all seven predictions occurring in one lifetime.

#8: Old Testament prediction: He will be spit upon and beaten. (Isaiah 50:6)  New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 26:67.  Probability: 1 chance in ten.

Combined odds: i chance in 12 Trillion that these eight prophecies would be fulfilled by one Man.

#9: Old Testament prediction: His betrayal money would be thrown in the Temple and then given to buy a potter's field. (Zechariah 11:13)  New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 27:5-7.  Odds of this happening: 1 chance in 200.

Combined probability:  The combined odds against these nine predictions being fulfilled by one Man: One chance in 2,400 Trillion.

     To be continued with next post...

Saturday, February 26, 2011



  " Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in
                  every way.  The Lord be with all of you."  (NIV)

I have heard it preached more than once that fear if the opposite of peace. God does not want His children to live in fear. When fear enters our lives, Satan catches a piggy-back ride!  Fear focuses on self: faith and peace focus on God.  " There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear... The one who fears is not made perfect in love."  I John 4:17,18  NIV

So then, how do we overcome our  fears?  First we need to make an honest inventory of ourselves, acknowledging our weaknesses and fears.  Like any battle, we need to first understand who the enemy is, what we are fighting against...  Whatever our foe is, we must first recognize it, and confess it to ourselves and to the Lord. Once we have acknowledged those weaknesses and fears, we need to rely on God through prayer and Bible study- these are the weapons to fight our foes!God's Word helps us to overcome our fears.  There are countless examples of scriptures that give us reassurance of His help. Here are a few:

     "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation."  Isaiah 12:2,3

     "I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears."  Psalm 34:4

     "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."
                                                                                                                   II Timothy 1:7

     " So do not fear; for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

When we let doubts and fears intimidate us, we lose our effectiveness as God's people.  When fear begins to creep in, call on the Holy Spirit within you to overcome your fears.  He is available.  Always.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


             "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you."  I Thessalonians 3:12

Hubble telescope photograph

The book of I Thessalonians, written by the Apostle Paul to the people at Thessalonica, is a book of advise to Believers on how to act and interact with each other and with mankind.  The book of I Thessalonians doesn't have a "3:16", so I chose the above verse as the topic for this post.

We as Believers, are supposed to be so full of love that it is overflowing to everyone.  Not just our closest friends. Not just our family. Not just to those who agree with us, dress like us, have the same skin color, speak the same language... EVERYONE.  Now, this does NOT mean that Believers shouldn't stand up for what they believe in... What it DOES mean is that these disagreements need to be handled firmly, but with the best interests of the opponent" in mind. Handled not only with love; but, with "tough love."  It can be a tough balancing act... Nevertheless, love covers a multitude of sins.... Love never fails. ( I Corinthians, chapter 13)

The Pleiades

I remember visiting a planetarium in Philadelphia when I was a teenager.  As I remember it, the planetarium was a big dome-shaped building.  We entered and stood, looking upward. Then, the lights were dimmed, and we viewed "the heavens".  All the constellations were displayed across the "sky", and they were described by a man with a deep resonant voice. It was an beautiful experience.  No fancy special effects like people today seem to think necessary; but, rather, a sense of how wonderfully and perfectly the Creator made our universe.

Hubble photo of dying star; looks like the Eye of God to me!

Now, imagine the planets and the constellations from a God's eye view, looking down past the heavens and into the planetarium which is chock-full of people.  The people are "packed in like sardines"; there number is vast. Some are sitting on the edge of the done-shaped building; others are lying down.  Everyone wants to see the heavens.  But it is so crowded.  The only ones who truly see the light are those in the center of the dome;  they see the light and they hear the resonant voice with the message. Others, further out from the center may see glimpses or hear bits and pieces, but never enough   to get the true picture. Those furthest from the center have stopped even seeking the light or the message...

But, wait!  There IS an answer!  The people in the center of the dome - those who have seen the Light and heard the Voice - can explain what they have seen and heard to the people next to them. This next group can then take the message on to the next tier of people. And so  on. And so on. Finally, the message of Heaven will reach the outermost edges of the dome; there will be someone capable of reaching and teaching every person under the dome. Everyone. BECAUSE THE LORD IS THE LIGHT AND THE LORD WILL MAKE YOUR LOVE INCREASE AND OVERFLOW FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR EVERYONE.

Often, the people who need love the most are the hardest to love.  These people have built walls around their hearts;  they are stand-offish, never letting anyone get too close.  They have experiences rejection. Or abuse. Or deep loneliness.  They need love so badly.  They need "a trip to the planetarium". They need someone to share the Light.  The Voice.

Might that someone be you?

Monday, February 21, 2011


               "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."  (NIV)

the site where Colosse once stood
In this letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul is trying to educate the people of this town.  Although he had never met these people, Paul cared about them;  word had reached Paul through other missionaries that false teaching had entered into this city.  In this letter, which later became known as the book of Colossians, Paul teaches and reinforces that Christ is sufficient for all our needs and that we are to be a living lesson for each other.  My very basic paraphrase of Paul's message is as follows:

  Keep God's word in you at all times.  Study it. Memorize it. Cherish it. Share it.  Share it in word and in deed.  Share it in song. Share it in actions. Share it in all your transactions. Share it in your personal life. Share it in your business transactions. Bring Christ and His word into your everyday world. As a Believer, you are a representative of Christ. You may be the only glimpse of Jesus that some people ever see... A light shining in a darkened part of the world...  This reminds me of the passage in Deuteronomy when God instructs His people  about what to do with His Word:  "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds: tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames  of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many..."  (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIV)

You might ask, "Why should I study the Bible?" Well, the Bible is God's word. It is alive with excellent advice on how to live, how to get along with others, how to understand yourself.  It also contains beautiful descriptions of the ancient world.  Much more importantly, it contains God's plan of salvation for YOU.

You might ask, "Why should I memorize scripture verses?"  Here is a scripture verse to help answer that question:  "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  (Psalm 119:11 NIV)

You might ask, "Why should I sing songs of praise?"  Again, let the scriptures reveal the answer:  "And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord. David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments - lyres, harps, and cymbals."  (I Chronicles 15:15,16 NIV) And, "Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music with tambourine and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation." Psalm 149:2-4  NIV)

Everything God tells us to do is for our own good.  Our heavenly Father didn't set up a bunch of rules as stumbling blocks for His people.  On the contrary, He gave us instructions to make our lives better.  It is up to each of us individually to follow His instructions for a better life.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


                          "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." (NIV)

At first glance this sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? Just live up to what you've already attained. Although this is a reference to the races commonly run in those days, when Paul wrote this in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, he was referring to their spiritual condition, not physical. But, just as in physical well-being, spiritual exercise is necessary to live up to a level already attained.  To keep our spiritual muscles tones we need prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, and honest self-evaluation.  To protect our muscles we require the daily application of the armor of God:

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  Ephesians 6:12-17 (KJV)

Additionally, we need the courage to speak when the Lord instructs us to do so. All of this enables us to do our jobs as ambassadors for Christ.  We, like Paul, should be striving to be mature in Christ, keeping the spiritual knowledge we have, yet learning more and more from life's experiences... At this point you might be thinking, "Well, that's easy for you to say... You haven't been through what I've been through."  No, but, everybody has been through their own pain; every life has its' heartbreaks. And, fact is, we can really learn from life's painful lessons. With physical exercise,  repeatedly flexing a set of muscles causes temporary pain, but results in increased strength.  Spiritual muscles are often strengthened through life's trials...

Years ago I attended a church where the Pastor admitted he really liked to play golf.  Sometimes he would use references to golf as analogies in his sermons.  Since I don't play golf, these analogies had to be pretty basic or I would miss the point.  But, I do like this little story about golf balls:  When they first manufactured golf balls they made the covers smooth.  Then it was discovered that after a ball had been roughed up, the player could get more distance out of it.  So, they started manufacturing the golf balls with dimpled covers.  So it is with life... It takes some rough spots in your life to make you go your farthest.  So, put on your spiritual armor, perform your spiritual exercises, and live up to what you have already attained... regardless  of - or, maybe because of - the rough spots in your life.

Friday, February 18, 2011


             " I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through
His spirit in your inner being." (NIV)

Power. From the moment of birth we struggle to gain or maintain power.  It is the human condition to want to be in control.  The tiniest baby makes a lot of noise to let all who are within hearing distance know when something is not right.  And, with behavior modifications as we grow older, we continue to do the same thing until we leave this earth. But, truth be known, we are powerless against all forces of nature, against having our feelings hurt, or against scraping our knee on the playground.  We humans do not have power; but, we can be conduits of power beyond our comprehension.
Step One in all twelve-step programs reads something like this:  We admitted we were  powerless over
(alcohol, drugs,food addiction,other people... you fill in the blank) - that our lives had become unmanageable.

The four books of the Bible - Galations, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians - were written by the apostle Paul, and are known as the power books.  They are THE books to study in order to get to know who you are in Christ.  By reading, studying, and prayerfully applying the lessons in these books, we can truly obtain power - through Christ Jesus.  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  (Philippians 4:13 NIV)  If you want power, tap into Jesus!  With Him, there is never a power outage.  God's power is just like His love.  It reaches every corner, every height, every depth; it is full. Immeasurable. Never-ending.

This is an old anagram, used by Bible students to remember the order of these four books.  This anagram also points to God's power:

Galations ......................G............God's
Ephesians.... .................E.............Electric
Colossians..... ...............C.............Company

Have you ever heard a powerful speaker? Maybe on television or radio. Or maybe you were blessed enough to experience this speaker in a live show. Someone who spoke with such authority that you were moved and motivated...Perhaps the speech changed your way of thinking.  Or changed your life. Words can be very motivating and persuasive. Powerful.

But remember, the real power is in the story, not the storyteller. Do not thnk that you can not be a witness for Christ because you don't speak with a booming voice, or don't know proper English, or can't recite fancy prayers. There is someone out there who needs to hear about God's love - told exactly your way.

The power is in the story, not the storyteller.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



 "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  The scripture does not say, 'and to his seeds', meaning many people, but, 'and to your seed', meaning one person, who is Christ."   (NIV)

Promises.  Easier to make than to keep.  Have you ever broken a promise? It makes you feel pretty bad, doesn't it? When you made the promise, you really meant it. But, circumstances changed, and you couldn't keep your word.  Later you felt so bad that you avoided the person you had disappointed... couldn't look him in the eye... didn't feel at ease around him... The burden of guilt over a broken promise can become a wedge between you and your friend.
Has anyone ever broken a promise to you?  It hurts, doesn't it? You were counting on that person. Or that favor. Or that money. Or the amount of time you thought you were going to spend with that particular person... Now you feel slighted, insignificant, let down.  Maybe bitter  and betrayed. Not good. Since you are human, both of these experiences have happened in your life. You have broken promises to others and you have also experienced the disappointment broken promises.

But God keeps ALL His promises. Every promise in the Scriptures has been, is being, or will be fulfilled. God's promise was of a Messiah - a descendant of Abraham. And that promise was fulfilled with the humble birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
As Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:6,  "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of God stands forever."
God never falters. Never fails.  God made a covenant with mankind. The same God Who spoke promises to Abraham fulfilled those promises with the birth pf Christ.  God continues to fulfill His promises to mankind.  We are part of the Abrahamic covenant;  God does not change.

Nowadays we are accustomed to contracts rather than covenants. With a contract all the persons involved must sign the statement, signifying that the statement is true, and agreeing upon what consequences will occur if the contract is broken. Thus, a contract is based on distrust and the assumption of failure. Nut a covenant is a promise made by all parties involved, and there is no contingency clause or "Plan B" in case of failure. The covenant is made with success in mind; it is built upon trust.

Only though a covenant with Christ will we find permanent solutions to our problems. Have you formed a covenant with Him? Or, are you settling for a mere contract with the world?

Sunday, February 13, 2011


               "But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."   (NIV)

When Moses came down the mountain, carrying the tablets with the ten commandments, his face shone from the reflection of God's presence. To prevent frightening the people, he put a veil over his face. In the third chapter of II Corinthians, Paul adds that this same veil would prevent the people from seeing Moses' face lose its radiance. This is an analogy for people's inability to realize the truth of the scriptures;  the veil keeps people from understanding the references to Christ in the Word of God.  When a person becomes a believer, Christ removes the veil, giving eternal life and the ability to gaze at the nature of God with an unveiled mind. And, by getting glimpses of the nature of God, we become more like Him, reflecting His glory in our countenances. In Matthew, chapter five, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world... let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise you Father in heaven."  (NIV, vss. 14,16)

Which brings me to my story about light.  Several years ago I lived in a big house on a corner city lot.  The house had a wraparound porch on two sides, and another porch in back.   All the entrances were visible from the street.  Even though no one else in the neighborhood did so, I always kept the outside lights on during the night. I'm not scared of the dark, nor was I especially afraid of crime in that sleepy little Southern town; but, I liked the idea of having the lights on.  Should anybody decide to break in, they would be visible to traffic going by. One Friday night... well, actually early Saturday morning... there was a knock at my front door.  I looked out my bedroom window and saw a car stalled at the crossroads. The inside of the car was visible from the streetlight above; and I could see that the car was empty. Apparently, the knock on the door was the person whose care had stalled...

Okay. Decisions, decisions.  What do I do?  I am alone in this big old house, and it's 3 o'clock in the morning. Immediately after expressing my hesitation to God,  He gave me the following verse: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:2 NIV).  Confident of my safety,  I went to the front door.  Standing there was a young mother,  holding a  baby girl who looked to be about a year old.  The young mother introduced herself , and asked if she could use my phone. She  had come to my door " because the porch lights were on, and it looked so friendly".

  I invited her inside.  We sat in the den at the back of the house, and she tried in vain to get someone to help her with her car. The baby got fussy.  I took her, held her, went to the kitchen to get her some apple juice for her bottle, talked to her while her mother made phone calls.  The young mother kept trying to get help... to no avail.  Finally, in tears she blurted out the fact that her young husband had beaten her and that she was trying to get away from him.  Her mother lived in the next state - a drive of a few hours. She was scared; if he spotted the stalled car, he would know that she wasn't far away. She poured out her story to me.  It broke my heart to realize that this young girl was the same age as my daughter, but her life had taken a bad turn. And then another.  As we talked, I knew that I was meant to help this girl and her baby.

"This little light of mine.... I'm gonna' let it shine.... This little light of mine... I'm gonna  let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine..."

I made a phone call.  Arrangements were made.  The car was taken care of, as were these two precious souls. As they were about to leave, I realized that I hadn't asked her the baby's name. When I asked, her reply was, "Oh, her name is Angel."  I had entertained an angel unawares.

Friday, February 11, 2011



         "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you?" (NIV)

I remember hearing this verse quoted when I was a teenager.\;  it was often used in reference to not smoking, not doing drugs, not drinking alcohol; and, rightly so. Later in life I remember that it became a popular reference for Christian-based weight loss programs.  Also appropriate.  This scripture is also used in prayers of confession for twelve-step programs for various substance abuse problems.  We humans have a lot of problems putting bad stuff (or too much good stuff) in our bodies... Remember Grandma saying, "You are what you eat."?  Scientists have proven that if your diet consists of lots of fatty meats, deep-fried foods, and high-sugar treats, then you are probably going to be overweight. Our bodies belong to God.  We are caretakers of these wonderfully-made vessels which contain our souls.  God wants us to take care of our physical selves so as to give our souls the chance to survive and thrive and grow in knowledge and grace.  We are not a physical beings trying to live in a spiritual world; we are spiritual beings trying to live in a physical world.

But, have you ever thought about your MIND being the temple of God?  Since we are what we eat, it stands to reason that our minds also become what we feed them.  What do you feed your mind? If your personal entertainment consists of movies, music, TV, or magazines filled with violence or sexual immorality or vulgar language, your thoughts and actions will reflect that input.  If the doctor could draw our blood and test it for human degradation,  many of us would have some very bad  lab results!  Of course, deep down, you already knew that, didn't you? Ask God to help you find your way back to Him. He is there. So gentle. So kind.

The Apostle Paul wrote I Corinthians.  In fact, he wrote a lot of the New Testament/Renewed Covenant.  In the book of Philippians, Paul wrote:  "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or receiver or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice and the God of peace will be with you."  (Philippians 4: 8 & 9  NIV)

There is yet another way in which the body is the temple of God.  We, who have accepted Christ Jesus as our personal Savior are the Body of Christ.  We ARE the temple! We, then, are instructed to take care of the temple... take care of each other.  Jesus tried to explain this when He said,  "Love your neighbor as yourself". (Matthew 22:39).  It is our responsibility and privilege to appreciate each others' differences within the church.  We don't have to agree on everything to love each other.  The world is watching, waiting to see us react in an ungodly way.  Sadly, we often do so... No wonder non-believers are not impressed with "Christianity"!    As Gandhi said, " I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians."

So, let us take the challenge to be God's Temple.  To react to situations in a Christ-like manner.  With love, patience, and humility. God's Temple. Where His Spirit dwells. The Temple is sacred. And, we are that Temple.

Thursday, February 10, 2011



     "... ruin and misery mark their ways."   (NIV)

     Wow. What a verse!  Betcha' nobody ever told you to memorize THAT one!  But, let's take it in context.  To do so we need to quote Romans 3:10-18; these verses are written like poetry, different verses being parts of sentences or thoughts...

                                                                           " There is no one righteous, not even one;
            there is no one who understands God. no one who seeks  God.
            All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
                 there is no one who does good, not even one.
                 Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.
                 The poison of vipers is on their lips.
                 Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
                 Their feet are swift to shed blood;
                  ruin and misery mark their ways,
                  and the way of peace they do not know.
                  There is no fear of God before their eyes."
                  (Romans 3:10-18 NIV)

     Sounds pretty dismal, doesn't it?  And, it would be - if the story stopped right here.  You see, this is the description of mankind without a Savior.  No righteousness.  No understanding.  Just misery and ruin...

 I promise we'll get to the solution later; but, first, let's take a good look at this unrighteousness of ours.  Ever since Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden, mankind has not been capable of righteousness.  Righteousness means "in right standing with God." Just think, until they fell into sin, Adam and Eve had one-on-one relationship with God, the Creator of the universe.  He walked with them in the Garden.  But, sin occurred, and it separated mankind from that one-on-one companionship. God is completely holy.  Completely moral.  Unable to tolerate sin. When we are addressing God, we can't rationalize our deeds and misdeeds the way we tend to when we talk to ourselves or our close friends: "Well, at least I'm not as bad as ol' John Doe down the street... he did such and such,  and I only did so and so..." Should we try to give such a rationalization to God, His reply would be: "Quiet!  YOU are still a sinner.  I will not listen to your excuses."  Because God is holy and incompatible with sin,  He doesn't rate sin, on a scale of one to ten the way we humans tend to... We are ALL sinners. Period.
      ..... Here is a story within a story within a story...

     In Luke 18:10-14, Jesus told the parable of two mens' prayers to God.  I will paraphrase the parable:  The first man stood in a prominent place in the temple and prayed loudly for all to hear: "Thank you, Lord, that I'm not like other men.  I fast twice a week, and I blah-de-blah-blah-blah-blah..... AND, I don't do such and such or act like that tax collector over there....."  The second man - the tax collector - stood towards the back of the temple, put his hand to his breast, and said, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner."  Jesus finished this parable by explaining that the tax collector went home in right-standing with God, while the first man didn't... because those who exalt themselves will be put down, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.

       Recently I heard two women having a conversation in a business office.  The conversation lasted about thirty minutes and consisted entirely of "Thank-the-Lord-we-ain't-like'so-and-so."  It was a self-righteous tirade.  These women were aware of my presence in the room.  They didn't know me, but they knew I was easily within hearing distance.  I suspect that they thought they were demonstrating "Christian" behavior, by loudly vocalizing all the things they didn't do... much like the first man in Jesus' parable.   It made me sad.  I wanted so badly to quote the parable to them... But then, the REAL Truth  hit!  The person who needed the parable was me!  My attitude in wanting to quote the parable to those two ladies was the same as their long speeches about what great Christians they were... which was also the same as the first man saying, "Thank you, Lord, that I'm not like other men."  All of us had certainly come short of the glory of God.

     A story within a story within a story... No one righteous. Not one. But, here is the good news!  When we continue on to verses 21 & 22 of Romans chapter three, we find The Solution:
               "But now is righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."
SO, the "law" points out for us what sin is, and our faith in Christ brings us into right-standing with God.

       I would be remiss to write about the book of Romans without including a summary of "the Romans Road", a long-standing tool used in leading a person to Christ. If you want to lead someone to Jesus, or if you need to find your own way to Him, follow the Romans Road:
      Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

     Romans 6"23  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

     Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

     Romans 10:9,10     "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and  it is with your mouth that you confess and you are saved."

     Romans 10:13  "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

     Jesus paid the price for us so that we CAN be righteous in God's eyes, after all!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Acts 3:16

     "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.  It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Hi, that has given this complete healing to him, as you can see."   (NIV)

     At the time of this occurrence, Jesus had been crucified, died, and had risen again.  And now the apostles were preaching the gospel and performing miracles in His name through the power of the Holy Spirit.

     Peter and John were on their way to Temple for afternoon prayer when they saw a beggar who had been crippled since birth. The beggar asked them for money; but, Peter replied, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6).  Then Peter held the beggar's right hand and helped him to stand. The mans feet and legs became strong.  He stood... walked...ran!  Jumped for joy!  And praised God.

 Since it was customary for everyone to go to Temple for afternoon prayers, there was a large crowd of people who witnessed this miracle of healing. Peter spoke to the crowd, giving all the praise and glory to God. He seized the opportunity to explain that Jesus was the Messiah foretold by the prophets, that He had been unrecognized by many of His own people, had been crucified and resurrected.  Now that He had risen and visited upon the apostles, Peter and the other apostles were able to heal in His name and power!
     There are a few things we can learn from this incident which occurred a couple thousand years ago:

#1: The Torah had not been abolished after Christ's death and resurrection.  The apostles and the rest of the crowd were going to Temple for afternoon prayer, as always. These people were still going to Temple, eating "Kosher", and following the Torah.
#2: Peter could have ignored the beggar when he asked for money.  It would have been easy to simply walk on by, especially since Peter didn't have any money... Nothing to offer... No sense in getting involved... Not so when the Holy Spirit is walking with you!

#3: The beggar asked for money - that's what he WANTED.  God gave him a miraculous healing - THAT was what he NEEDED. Sometimes we need to recognize the difference between what we want and what we truly need.  Ask God for wisdom and discernment. And, don't put God in a people-sized box!  He can do so much more than give us a coin with which to buy a crust of bread!
#4: Both Peter and the beggar gave praise to God for the healing.  How easy it would have been to accept even a small part of the credit!  But Peter knew and acknowledged that all the honor and glory belonged to the Lord.

Do you give the Lord your thanks and praise every day?  Do you praise Him when things are going well?  How 'bout when things are just so-so?  Aren't you still protected and out of harms way?  Praise God from Whom  ALL blessings flow!