John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Jesus called Himself the way, the truth, and the life. These were not plural, but notice that he added that there was no other way or truth or life to get to the Father.
John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.
We know that He was called light as well. But, I can't stop comparing these three characteristics of God's nature to the three keys to Spirituality highlighted by Paul in the love chapter. And, don't forget to notice where the LOVE chapter is in the New Testament... it's sandwiched in the middle of a bunch of doctrinal issues and the Spiritual gifts. After you have paused for a moment to listen to the aged old man insist that he is going to show you the best way to be Spiritual, with a wave of his arm, then we will skip right through the chapter to the last word on love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Here we see the three keys a Christian should strive for: faith, hope, and love... if we want to be so Spiritual. I see a correlation between the two sets of three. I believe a case can be made to match them up. We could do that here and now on the spot. But, I want you to make the match yourself. I've made mine. And, I have posted it on another of my websites for you to take a peek at... once you've done your homework. It's over on a new page of Go-Minister that I am working up as a resource for unlocking our gifts and talents. After you compare your thoughts to mine, feel free to comment, tweet, email, or inbox me your thoughts, and what you make of the two verses together as interlocking puzzle pieces. My choices can be found at http://www.go-minister.com/puzzling-gifts.html Be sure to check back on that page soon to see how the resource is going, and email me any contribution ideas you have, as always. God bless you!
Amid the deafening silence, and the crowded bodies clustered around the small room, the men all stared as if by consensus at the one empty spot where he had sat. No one mentioned the spot for a time. They just sat there smothered in the gloom of the memories of all that had transpired. They were angry; each of them. This wolf in sheep's clothing had lived among them. He had carried the bag. He knew them well. He had been with them when they ate the dropped gleanings from the fields of the Israelites, as allowed for the poor, like homeless men.
No one thought about Thomas' doubting, or Peter's denial, or the way John Mark fled from the garden naked when the guards showed up to take Jesus in for trial. It was easier to bear the waiting without looking at their own faults. Jesus was gone, and surely someone else was to blame. This missing spot weighed so heavily on their minds, when they weren't in prayer that the only action they took was to replace Judas, the betrayer. Yes, they wanted to make sure that his post was given to another. That's exactly what he deserved, as the prophecies stated.
Acts 1:13-14 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Nothing is recorded in history about Matthias. We hear about the ministries and deaths of the other 11, and about Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Isn't that odd? Paul replaced Judas. Paul took the empty seat. Paul counted himself as one born out of season. He planted more churches than all the others, and wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. And, he figured in the telling of about half of the book of Acts. But, nowhere do we see Jesus' response to the men waiting in the Upper Room.
All we know was Jesus said wait. The only action they took was to vote on a replacement for Judas. This is neither commanded, nor rebuked, but simply a human decision based on a desire to speed their interpretation of Scripture. They wanted to see his post taken by another. And, they drew straws. Though not considered right, nor wrong, the action showed impatience when told to simply wait.
We speak of Sunday being the Lord's Day. Aren't all days the Lord's? Jesus told us that He is even Lord of the Sabbath. Matthew 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
The Bible uses the phrase "The Day of the Lord" about 26 times in 13 different books. Nine of the 16 old testament prophets mentioned it. Peter and Paul spoke about it in the New Testament. Jesus used parables to speak of the judgment day.
Matthew 24:50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looks not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in pieces, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
I think these passages point out the reality that all days belong to God, and that there will be a final day of reckoning where we will account for the use of our days. Robert Brault has a humorous blog about the topic, which I have pasted in below, about Judgment Day.
Ten Ways to Ace Your Judgment Day Interview
1. Be on time.
2. Tell the Lord you've heard a lot about heaven and like what you hear.
3. Be neat, alert, make direct eye contact.
4. Don't stare at the beard.
5. When the Lord speaks, lean forward, look interested.
6. Be familiar with the Lord's background. ("I really liked your Ten Commandments.")
7. Be clear on where you want to be in five years.
8. Be honest about personal flaws. ("I tend to be too forgiving.")
9. Do not hesitate to underscore qualifications. ("I go to church every Easter.")
10. Make it clear that you'll accept the standard benefits package.
~~ Robert Brault
It becomes obvious in reading through these how different of an experience that the "Day of the Lord" is going to be from anything we have ever experienced. What do you think about Judgment Day?......
Something can be said to be an obsession when that's all you talk about. An engulfing passion is worthy of all your attention though. Especially when He is everything.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the descendants of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Romans 1:1-9
I think Paul was more than a little obsessed with the Divine. You could say that he was "taken away" with his theology. It seems he lost his head. Literally. I can picture his well-meaning friends warning him, "Paul, you'd better get a grip on it before you lose your head!" :) Since "He" was all Paul talked about, it is safe to say that he was wrapped up in the "Spiritual."
It has been said that, "life is one long process of getting tired."* Well, yes, if it's done right. Nobody likes insomnia, so that can be a good thing. I always loved the feeling of laying my head on my pillow knowing I had earned my bread.
2 Timothy 3:10-11 But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life,
purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which
came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but
out of them all the Lord delivered me.
This is an odd bit of a letter from Paul to his young mentee Timothy. I like it because we hear Paul saying, [Ah, but you know me well, Timothy. You know what I teach, how I live my life, why I do what I do, my reasons for believing, how I suffer, who I love, the limits of my patience, what I've gone through in this world, and how the Lord brought me through it all.]-My paraphrase
Paul was transparant to those he mentored. He lived a transparant life. This does not mean that his life was perfect. It means he didn't hide his problems from Timothy. the key words here, for me, are purpose, and delivered. First, I like hearing Paul talk about his purpose. I hate purposlessness. God gave us a spine. I believe we need a purpose for living. But, the word delivered may be mistaken to mean something that it doesn't. It does not mean delivered in the sense that Daniel was delivered from the Lion's Den. He did not escape unscathed. He was beaten, and stoned, and suffered greatly. This deliverance was the kind you overcome by suffering through and coming out the other end intact in your faith. Yes, that is being an overcomer. And, therein is our purpose in this life... to overcome, with our faith intact. We will need it you know.
*Samuel Butler Quote
Can you identify the connection between these men?
---------- Click the word "More" for the answer and the rest of the blog or scroll down if you don't see the word "More." :) (It depends on how you entered the page.)
Jeremiah 18:3-4 Jeremiah told the parable of the Potter. He reminded us that we are like clay in God's hands; a fitting analogy considering we are made of dust. But, this striking parable, literally, is a painful picture for God's children. Jeremiah 18:6 Jeremiah had his ears open apparantly. Isaiah, probably abot 70 years of age by the time Jeremiah was born, had warned Judah (the capital of Israel) that God was their Potter. Isaiah 29:16
Jeremiah had heard or read old Isaiah's words about being clay in the hand of our Maker, and was moved to visit a pottery shop himself, to see what old Isaiah was talking about, to allow God's voice to open this Scripture for his heart. Israel hadn't had their ears open. They had fallen to the Assyrians while Isaiah yet preached. Not everyone listening to the preacher buys the sermon, I guess. Jeremiah 17:7-8
Amos (think hayseed farm boy turned evangelist) preached his heart out. He told in one sermon how God showed him visions of grasshoppers, fire, and a plumbline. He warned that God had a sword in hand. The altar call was interrupted when the local priest tried to run him out of town, saying that the Land was not able to bear Amos' words. Amos 7:10 His expulsion order was common, "Don't preach that in my chrch, go preach somewhere else!" Amos 7:12-13 Things can get ugly when the Hose of God becomes "the King's Chapel." But, don't think Amos' words returned void. I'm telling the sequence of events in reverse order.
Somewhere along the line, Isaiah must have been listening to Amos' message, or heard about Amos' predictions. Amos was about 30 years older than Isaiah. You see, there exists a thread of the Word weaving from one generation to the next, down through time. This thread won't be broken before God's return. Back to Jeremiah's fieldtrip to the potter's house. I said the experience can be painful for God's children. Just as I told the story in reverse, because each message had its causal event; so you and I have our source. Our words are not a new thing either. We came from God. We can not look at those who've gone before and take them to task for the job that they have done. On the contrary, they will take us to task for how we passed on their message.
In the same manner, we can not task God over the whys and wherefores of circumstances that He has ordained for us. Are we not in His hands to do as He wills? He will take us to task for the outcome. If you find your life smashed and broken, and none of the pieces seem to "fit right" any more, maybe God doesn't want those pieces in your life anymore. Maybe He has broken you on His wheel, to reshape your life.
When I was taking clerk typist classes in Brunswick, I sometimes went to the pottery workshop in the evenings. There I made dozens of these little figures for no purpose at all. I was living in a harsh environment, shocked at the people and circmstances I found myself in, only 17 and 18 years old, fresh out of high School, and far from home for the first time in my life. But, I liked the pottery workshop, along with some of the trips I took while I lived there, like Marineland. But, while painting the little figurines I made, I often thought about Jeremiah and his parable of the Potter's House.
I later gave the figures to different family members, and over the years I forgot about them. But, now I see them sitting around their houses when I visit. It reminds me that God uses my circmstances to build me. Nothing happens by accident, but all is a part of His greater plan. He makes me what I am, and hears me when I pray... as the old song from School says...
He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.
1. There really ought to be a sign upon my heart,
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.
2. In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see
Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.
Jeremiah's words weren't forgotten. About 600 years later, the Apostle Paul took up Jeremiah's thread and told about God's work...making vessels of honor out of the clay.
Romans 9:21-23 Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to
make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to
show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the
vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches
of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had before prepared unto glory,
And, those are words I remember well from 30 years ago. Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and later Paul; they all chose to allow God to break them on the wheel repeatedly. They became vessels of honor, and we do hold them in high regard for the message that they carried. But, they were only jars of clay in the hand of the Lord. The work of God didn't feel good while they were going through it all. Jeremiah, in a moment of disallusioned tears, after spending the night in stocks, said:
Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any
more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my
bones, and I was weary from holding it back, and I could not.
I guess all of us find it hard to keep or mouths shut sometimes, despite our inner hesitancy to speak.
Men and women in the Bible were simply human...interacting with a God. We have many accounts of great exploits and heroic faith recorded, but most Bible believers had some major faults or problems recorded as well. I can't think of any who were perfect, except maybe Daniel. (And, surely his problems were merely unrecorded.) Even John the Baptist had poor social skills; eating grasshoppers, living in the desert, and calling people names. I don't imagine many bedouins have excellent table manners.
It seems the greater men, the ones held in higher regard, had more faults listed. Like Moses, we see that God was able to do a great work through him, despite his many weaknesses and flaws.
The twelve apostles were a ragged lot, not highly esteemed among their peers. Judas was greedy and disloyal. Peter was rash and often foolish. Doubting Thomas must have been slow-minded, if not mildly mentally handicapped, from some of the statements he made and the way he misunderstood simple figures of speech used in the common language that Jesus used.
Noah got drunk on unmixed "strong wine" not long after the flood and passed out naked. I'm sure he knew better. Lot got drunk twice after being delivered from the burning Sodom and Gomorrah, with incestous results. Genesis 19:33-36
Even the great Apostle Paul was frequently recorded as being stubborn, rash, and thick-headedly inflexible. To begin with, we see him supervising the stoning of Steven in the book of Acts, in the name of Heaven. He continued to violently harass the early church, stoned and arrested Christians, and vented his human rage on those whose doctrine differed with his. I wonder what made him such an angry man? I wonder what he encountered in his early years that made him express his passion for God so violently? Maybe his Father was abusive and violent. Or, perhaps there was an ex-wife in the picture. He mistakenly took this human rage to be the zeal of God. But, he quickly found himself up against Jesus Christ Himself.
He spoke harshly and brassly about having got in Peter's face about Peter's prejudices and inconsistencies against the gentiles. He argued with Barnabas about allowing John Mark to resume his junior missionary field work, after John Mark's desertion. This seems quite selfish and petty when you consider how kind Barnabas had been to Paul immediately after Paul's conversion; taking the murderous Saul/Paul under his wings, and urging the other disciples to accept him in the church. I like the kind Mr. Joseph Barnabas! His name means Son of Encouragement. Acts 4:36 He was often seen encouraging others.
We could argue that Paul's goal was not to "Win Friends and Influence People," but to spread the gospel message. Yet, when you compare Jesus' methods to Paul's, you see quite a bit more discord sown in Paul's path. As a side note, Ministers often have different preaching styles. Before you think that a man who is spitting and shouting has more anointing than the Preacher who speaks calmly and quietly, with his hands in his pockets, remember of which sort Jesus often was when preaching. Kerygma, the Greek noun for the Preaching (Kerusso is the act of Preaching/Verb form,) is worship, and like worship preaching comes in many forms, and is a unique expression of the individual giving the gift.
One event in Paul's ministry particularly stands out as totally irrational and bizarre. He was on his first missionary journey, covering Acts 13, 14. He and Barnabas had gone through Cyprus Island with some success, but had more trouble when they reached the mainland. The men of Antioch weren't all agreeable. (Incidentally, for those who like to point out the way women were even prone to arguing in the Bible like Euodias and Syntyche in Philippians 4:2, :) notice that men were prone to throwing big rocks at people.) By the time Paul got a few sermons in at Iconium, they were mad enough to plot together to stone him. Acts 14:5
Paul and Barnabas decided to skip town quickly, as they hadn't yet been beaten or stoned, and didn't seem to desire that outcome. Then they began preaching in Derbe and Lystria, where they healed a man born crippled, through the power of Jesus' name. The people were in awe of the disciples after witnessing that miracle, and decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Jupiter, and Paul was Mercury, since he was the main speaker of the preaching pair. Then the local priest of Jupiter brought in garlands and cows to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas.
This was just too much for Paul's and Barnabas's Jewish sentiments and their fierce devotion to the one true God. The Bible records that the two men tore their own clothes and ran among the people, putting a stop to the worship. Acts 14:15.
Tearing and shredding of clothes was not uncommon in those barbaric days, but was a way to show intense sorrow or anguish. The Jewish are often intensely outwardly emotional people, culturally. But, even then people could be shocked and put off at excesses of zeal. This fact can be illustrated by looking at the time the prophet Samuel chopped the hostage King Agag to bits with his sword, because God had commanded the Israelites to take no hostages in that particular battle. We know Samuel's passionate zeal was a shock to the people because we see that his own people shortly after that trembled at his presence when Samuel came to town to anoint David king. 1 Samuel 16:4
Back to the case of Paul shredding his clothes, we see intense expressions of anger. It can be inferred that Paul was not merely saddened, but deeply angered because of the use of the word "vanities." Paul was calling their deeds foolish. Coupled with the way they ran in among them, you quickly see that Paul found it easier to let his emotions show, than to control his temperament.
Now, Paul had already made the men in Iconium mad, and they followed him here and stirred up the people who Paul had just offended to stone Paul. The Bible doesn't say that Barnabas was stoned with him. Only Paul. This seems reasonable since we know that Paul did most of the talking. Also, as we see later when Paul and Barnabas argue over John Mark, Barnabas is a tender, sensitive man. He appeared to be gifted at making friends. Paul, conversely, appeared to be gifted at making enemies.
There is no way to explain away the fact that they participated in the act of shredding their own clothes in anger. This was not a reasonable response or reaction to the ignorance of those who don't know God. Even if you consider it as a cultural norm for that day and age, you know that Paul had to know better than shredding his own clothes in a fit of rage. Surely, he felt some shame and remorse for that afterwards, (or at least by the time they were finished stoning him.)
Here you had Paul, who considered worship of false gods a heathenistic practice, yet he was ripping his own clothes like the heathen. This behavior was inconsistent, to say the least.
But, we all have our inconsistencies, don't we? Many good Christian people struggle with feelings of anger and rage that can be uncontrollable. Many pastors like to use the term "goals" to describe the behavior we know we should be displaying as Christians. In other words, it is our goal as Christians to grow in the fruit of the Spirit and learn to control our anger, if that is what we struggle with. Sometimes you may fail in weak areas, but you have to allow God to pick you back up and you have to keep striving towards mastery of your weaknesses. If you haven't overcome any of your weaknesses, then you are still drowning or wallowing in sin. Otherwise, what has God saved you from?
Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is a striking story, regardless of which Gospel account you are reading, Matthew, Luke, or Hebrews. Jesus fasted for an unusually long time, without any food, not like a Daniel Fast. (Moses was known to have fasted that long.) But, quite obviously, Jesus must have fasted frequently in His life before this, because you can’t start out with a 40 day fast. You have to work your way up to that.
So, you can imagine there must have been a lot of fireworks so to speak. The devil himself showed up to tempt Jesus. Jesus finds Himself at one point, suspended over the temple in Jerusalem, tempted by Satan to jump. Talk about strange visions! I would never thought of jumping off a temple. About 50% of my visions during a fast involve hamburgers. Of course, the other half are less carnal and often heart changing.
This field trip Jesus took, from the wilderness to the temple in Jerusalem, transported in a vision it seems, is much like the trips Ezekiel took in chapters 8 and 37 of his prophecy. John the Revelator and Apostle Paul took heavenly journeys, as well. But, all of them were transported by angels. Jesus was taken by Satan.
I don’t have anything to comment on this, mostly because it is just one of those strange stories that leave you sitting there for a long time, staring at the words over and over. I don’t know what to make of it.
Less happens by chance than we think. Some things we attribute to coincidence because our minds can’t grasp the unexplained. That’s why He is God, and we are clay.
There is so much noise; so much distraction sometimes. 1 Corinthians 14:10 Everything means something, of course, but not everything is significant. And, sometimes you are faced with choices for your ear. There will be tradeoffs, you know.
Revelation 22:17 Have you ever heard God call your name? He speaks more than we hear. We call it "selective perception." We tune out what we don't really want to listen to often. I find myself peering at the words in my Bible sometimes calling the words, pronouncing the syllables, without my mind focused on making meaning. Going through the motions only gets you going with wind up toys. Twist the little gadget around and around, and release, to see it fly, wobble, or dance across the floor. That never gets you far with God. You just end up going in circles.
I like numbers... they are so clean and pure and honest. Math is fair. Social Studies is filled with conflict, civil rights struggles, wars. Reading itself is a struggle for many students. Much of what we read is fiction. And, Science can be a twisty path of theories, all of which have their proponents and opponents. Wishes, lies, and dreams! But, Math, Math is. Math is fair for all. It doesn't matter what color your skin is, two plus two equals four. That's equal rights. There are no wars, conflicts, or battles fought over the greater than less than decision. There are some numbers that are perfect. No Science theory is perfect. No historical fact is perfectly true. All books are written from someone's perspective, or limited imaginings. Numbers translate into any language.
Show me a student who is poor in basic Math, and I will show you a student who has not been taught Math. That is not always the case with children who can not read. But, much of recreational Math is just that, amusement. You go around in circles. Math mazes, Math finds, Number sequences, though enjoyable to follow the logic, the meaning fails. Have you ever had your child come home from school and say, "Guess what Mom, Dad! We added five and four today, and you'll never believe it but five and four make nine!" No, they don't say that, because those are just bare, naked numbers. Bare, naked numbers are meaningless. If you've seen one, you've seen ten and forty-nine. The "point" of Math, it would seem, is to find the answer, so you can plug it into some larger situation and make sense of that situation, by measuring, quantifying, or figuring.
When was the last time you recited your time tables, "just for fun?" That would be about as exciting as alphabetizing your grocery list. So, what's my point? My point would be that so much of what we do is pointless. That's why it's called "a-muse-ment." To muse means to think. Amusement means spending time not thinking. I don't know if they had Math puzzles in Paul's day, in the Bible. But, Paul found a much higher level of things that can be pointless in his life.
Try this quiz. Which of the following did Paul think was pointless?
1. Talking in Tongues
5. Giving to the Poor
6. Dying for a Friend
7. All of the Above
8. None of the Above
The correct answer is ....
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