Month: January 2012

“Smart Mouth”

Anyone that is fascinated with nature is sure to believe that the Venus Fly Trap is one of the neatest plants to be found, and boy does this plant have one smart mouth!  God provided these plants with mouths that have little sensitive hairs inside of them.  These hairs cause the mouth of the plant to shut up tight when they are agitated in less than a second!  This plant’s mouth works exactly like God wanted it to.  There are a couple of lessons that we can learn from this plant.

First, we, unlike the plant don’t always use our mouths the way God intended for us to do.  We often say things that we shouldn’t.  The Holy Spirit, through James, says concerning the tongue, “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.”  And also, “Does a spring bring forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” (James 3: 9,11)

Sometimes the meanest things done are not things that are done at all, but instead are things that are said. It’s amazing how a body made up of about 206 bones can be controlled by something without a single one in it. (James 3:2-5)  Often the best of friendships and even marriages are ruined because of this sad fact.

The second and most useful thing that we can learn from God’s little creation is that when we become agitated we need to shut up our mouth tight.  Easier said than done isn’t it?  But none-the-less, it is something that we must learn to do.  Most especially I, as a person that used to speak my mind no matter the place or time, have had to wrestle with this.  Now as a Christian I must remember that Jesus said that I will have to answer “for every idle word spoken.” (Matthew 12:36)  When you think about that it can be a scary thought because an active mouth can shoot out a lot of idle words! Many of those “idle” words spoken in anger will have a loud echo on the Day of Judgment.  We will be a lot better off when we learn to keep our mouth shut until we can calm down.

The apostle Peter urges Christians to be like Jesus when he said, “that you should follow His steps…who, when reviled did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten….” (1st Peter 2: 21,23)

If you think that’s not a challenge then you’re stronger than I am, but it really is all up to me to decide just what kind of “smart mouth” I’m going to have. EA

The Day Pilate Marveled

A judge had to be summoned before the death penalty trial of Jesus could begin. Pilate was this judge. Pilate was not a complete stranger to Judea. He had become governor of the area about the time that Jesus began His public work (Luke 3:1). Little did Pilate know when the job became his that the Judge of the world would soon stand before him.

Pilate was probably an experienced judge. He would have understood very well the role that politics, schemes and false witnesses played in the judiciary system. He had the ability to recognize character in another whether he had any or not! He understood his role as judge; he understood that life and death hung in “his” balance (John 19:10,11). No doubt many accused criminals had pleaded for mercy at his feet. But everything that Pilate was used to hearing from defendants would soon change. Pilate was going to meet Jesus!

The scriptures say, “And while He [Jesus] was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.” (Matthew 27:12-14)

The scriptures the eunuch from Ethiopia read say Jesus was “led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” (Acts 8:32) The judge who no doubt had heard everything during a trial now heard nothing! Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and how weak the case against Him was (Matthew 27:18, 24) and he was amazed at the silence that this falsely accused defendant maintained. Without a doubt this made no sense to Pilate at all.

The thing about the situation is that Pilate marveled at the silence because he did not understand who was really on trial the day Jesus stood before him. I marvel because I do! (Romans 8:5-19)  EA

The Four Witnesses of John 5 (Part 4)

In John 5 Jesus helped a man who was in need of mercy. Jesus gave grace but all the Jewish leaders got was angry. They accused Him of being a “law breaker” because the crippled man carried his bed on the Sabbath. They accused Jesus of not honoring God only to have their tables turned by being informed that they were dishonoring God the Father because they were dishonoring His Son (John 5:16-30). As part of their “legal discussion” Jesus calls witnesses for the sake of His accusers that they might rethink their accusation.

The first witness was John the baptist, the second witness consisted of the undeniable works performed by Jesus and the third witness was God’s word, the very law they accused Jesus of breaking (John 5:31-44).

The last witness to consider might be viewed by some as part of the third witness; but I believe he deserves a spot of his own. As part of Jesus’ attempt to get His accusers to think objectively and not just with objections Jesus mentions a man who knew all about the Law that He was being accused of breaking.

WITNESS #4 – MOSES

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” (John 5:45-47) (more…)

The Four Witnesses of John 5 (Part 3)

A mule has nothing on the stubbornness of people who Jesus encountered during His earthly ministry. In John 5 Jesus healed a man and provided him with freedom but the leaders sought to hurt Jesus because the man was told to take his bed with him (John 5:8,9,16). They accused Jesus of disrespecting the authority of the Sabbath but they were told they were disrespecting the authority of God’s Son! (John 5:17,18)

Jesus’ accusers wanted to get legal with Him but they didn’t realize they were already talking with the Judge (John 5:22,23). Jesus’ next step in His legal lesson for the accusers was to call witnesses.

Witness number one was John. John was sent to preach and prepare the hearts of the people before Christ (John 1:23; 5:33). While many rejoiced in John’s message, Jesus’ accusers rejected it.

Then came witness number two. The next witness was something that John never did – miracles (John 5:36; 10:41). The “prosecutors” couldn’t dispute the miracles (John 3:1,2) and as a matter of fact His accusers were actually “moved” by His miracles; but unfortunately they were moved to anger and jealously (Mark 15:9,10; John 12:17-19).

Witness number three shows that not only were they blind spiritually but their sin had spread to their ears (Matthew 13:15).

WITNESS #3 – GOD’ WORD

Jesus said, “And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:37-40) (more…)

The Four Witnesses of John 5 (Part 2)

John 5 reveals the truth of the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Jesus helped a man in need. He helped him physically, emotionally and spiritually (John 5:7,8 &14). He asked for no credit, He did not make a show out of it and I have no reason to believe that He regretted it one bit – but He sure caught some serious grief over it.

When the religious leaders found out that Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and then told him to get up and carry his bed they did not see the miracle as a reason to rejoice for the man; they saw it as a reason to get mad at the one who they considered to be a “law breaker.” John said, “…the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him,because He had done these things on the Sabbath.” (John 5:16)

But for their soul’s sake Jesus tried to reason with them by presenting witnesses that testified to the fact that they were actually breaking the law by rejecting the only “Light” that would let them see God working in the lives of mankind (Psalm 18:28). Jesus’ first witness was John the baptist. This man of God preached and pleaded with all of Israel to repent and prepare for the Coming One, but the Jewish leaders refused to change. They tried to reject the messenger but they ended up rejected by the message and the support from God that it had (Matthew 21:24-26). But Jesus still had greater witnesses than the testimony of John so He presents to His accusers witness number two:

WITNESS #2 – THE WORKS JESUS DID. 

Jesus said, “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36) (more…)

The Four Witnesses of John 5 (Part 1)

John 5 begins with Jesus and a man in desperate need of help. The man finds help with Jesus but Jesus finds trouble with the Jews. The Jews confront Jesus and tell Him that He “violated” God’s Law by being an accessory to the “crime” of bed carrying on the Sabbath. Jesus responds by telling them that He had the authority to do what He did and that they were out-of-order in their judgment of Him because they were intentionally ignoring the honor that He was due. He urges them to consider the fact that He could not do what He did without approval from God, His Father. He tells them that their eternal life hinges on the very work that they were rejecting and that His work as God’s Son had the support of other witnesses. So who were these witnesses? To give them an opportunity to find salvation (John 5:34) Jesus didn’t leave them wondering.

Witness #1 On The Stand – The Man Of God Called John.

Jesus told the Jews that He did not need the witness of men, but nonetheless one man that they were very familiar with had told them what they needed to hear even though they rejected his message. The beginning of the apostle John’s gospel described the rejected witness by saying:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light…John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” (John 1:6-8, 15) (more…)

“…but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

The title above is a quotation of the end of Mark 16:16. It is contended by some that this verse teaches that the baptism commanded by Christ is not necessary to salvation. Their grounds for the argument rests upon the fact that Jesus did not say, “he that believeth not and is baptized not shall be damned” contrary to the previous statement that both belief and baptism were necessary for the salvation of those that heard the gospel.

The stance held by such a person teaches that since Jesus did not condemn the lack of baptism but only the lack of faith on the part of the person hearing the gospel that means that baptism is not necessary to salvation at all. But is that what Mark 16:16 is really saying? Unfortunately, for the person that holds to the doctrine of faith-only, this is not what Mark 16:16 is saying at all.

What happens to a person that lacks faith who ends up being baptized, or in other words what happens to a non-believer who is immersed in water? They get wet! Nothing more and nothing less. There was no reason for Jesus to say that the absence of a scriptural baptism leads to damnation because He had already given the way that leads to salvation (Matthew 28:19-20). If a person wants to find salvation then do what Jesus says (Hebrews 5:9).  If you want to find condemnation then do the opposite.

What Jesus was teaching at the end of Mark 16:16 is no different from what He said in John 3:17-18: (more…)

“…A Woman Who Fears Jehovah…”

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Every generation has women who are adored for their looks. They are treated as if the world has never seen such beauty before. Hollywood makes the stars shine – time helps them to fade away. So much time is spent glorifying something that will not last long yet it seems as if the lesson is never learned.

Never fear though! Our generation has Botox and plastic hasn’t only been for Barbie for decades now. Surely now physical beauty will last a lifetime, right? Um, have you seen the pictures? The women who were once praised are now only parodies of themselves. The culture that oohed and ahhed their looks now only ewes their lack of them. It hurts my heart to see what some people have done to their faces and bodies to try to “turn back the clock.”

Every generation sees it happen but every generation refuses to believe it. Every generation tries to keep their youthful beauty but every generation loses it. There are so many in every generation who completely neglect the lasting inside while paying all of the attention to the dying outside.

The thing to remember is that Proverbs 31:30 originated from a woman. A very wise woman! A godly woman! The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is a woman who still rules among women. She is the one who has something to be praised for at the end of this life’s journey! She has denied herself and lifted up her neighbors. She has denied herself and lifted up her family. She has denied herself and lifted up her faith! She is a true woman.  EA

P.S. – Fella’s, the same principle goes for us too! Those muscles aren’t really made of steel (Proverbs 20:29).

Don’t Leave it up to “Good Fortune”

Things like horoscopes make me laugh. I mean come on, how many different ways can you say the same thing? One close cousin of the horoscope that also makes me laugh is the fortune cookie. What a combination! Good news every time and lottery numbers to boot! Have you ever wondered why your cookie never says, “You are going to win the lottery!” But anyways, despite the silly sayings that most fortune cookies contain, I got one not too long ago that made me smile. It said, “You will receive some high prize or award.” When I read that I thought to myself, “Hey, now there is one I can agree with” and it’s not because of my good fortune, it’s because of my faith.

Concerning his desire to live beyond the grave Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) Now what is part of that prize and why could he confidently expect to receive it?

We have one answer in 2 Timothy 4:7,8 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Paul did not rely on good fortune to receive a high prize or award. He did not leave it up to chance. He relied on his willingness to endure to the end. He relied on the promise of God made through the faith that was revealed through Jesus Christ. He relied on the grace of the only Righteous Judge that would give him that prize/award.

Christians are called to have the same mindset as Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1 & Philippians 3:15). We must strive to be like the apostle in our confidence in Christ and in our salvation; but this type of confidence will not be found in a cookie. It only comes from a right relationship with our Creator and Savior based on His directions found in His word (Romans 1:16,17, 10:17; Hebrews 8:10-12).  EA