The scripture for today, February 28 (2/28), is Jeremiah 2:28 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.”
Today we think the whole thing is ridiculous. How could people believe in a multitude of gods or even one? Further, how could people make statues of them as though anyone knew what the gods looked like? On top of that, many of them looked like dumb animals. And gods you could carry around?
Apparently, it was the popular thing to do. In fact, a person discovering yet another god was highly esteemed. And it seemed logical that the more gods one believed in, the more holy a person was. Or the bigger the statue of a god in one’s home, the more dedicated a person was.
We today call those old gods myths ~ things that were made up out of people’s imaginations. Yet they thrived in their time. Why? Because of “mass hypnosis” in a sense. Humans are social beings and we don’t like being ostracized. We want to be accepted.
Do we do the same thing today? There are evangelists on television who draw crowds of hundreds and thousands and people send them millions of dollars. They seem so right and so holy. Yet they contradict each other. So it cannot be a measure of rightness and holiness that a lot of people believe something.
The measure of spiritual things must be the Bible. Many religious leaders in antiquity and up to today have duped peopled because they looked and acted so “holy.” Remember, no matter how many thousands upon thousands follow a religious leader, that leader will be judged by God just like everyone else.
There are a lot of religious contradictions out there. We cannot say “all religions are right in their own way”. Religion is not a philosophy. Religion involves whether we will spend eternity in heaven or hell.
Is it ever possible to sort through all the contradictions and come up with what is the truth? Is it possible to know for sure?
Let us read the Bible for ourselves. Let us study the Bible for ourselves. Let us not search the scriptures for something to prove our opinion right, or a certain leader right, or our family right, or a particular religious idea right. Let us try to erase all our pre-conceived religious notions, and read with an open mind what God himself has to say to us. It is possible to know for sure.
The EASY BIBLE WORKBOOK series is just fill-in-the-blank Bible verses. I take you in an orderly fashion through many books of the Bible from Genesis through all the writings of the Apostles. Easy Peasy. Start with the OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY. Click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2IGMEZb
The scripture for today, February 27 (2/27), is Jeremiah 2:27 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“ ‘Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,’ declares the Lord.”
Do you want God to make it impossible for someone to insult or lie or cuss at you? Do you want God to make it impossible for someone to fire you? Do you want God to make it impossible to kill you? Do you want to stop free will? If that were the case, we would all be robots with no will of our own.
More and more people are blaming God for bad things happening in their life. That is their excuse for rebelling against God and declaring he does not even exist. Their view of God is a Santa Claus or Genie in a Bottle who grants their every wish and keeps them from all harm. No one ever dies, no one ever sins, and it is heaven on earth.
What they want is for God to stop his laws of Nature whenever you want. If someone throws a knife at them, it suddenly turns to gelatin. If someone’s car is about to slam into them and kill someone, they want that car to suddenly be made out of feathers.
Other people sometimes blame God for bad things happening in their life because blaming is one of the ways they handle their grief. They don’t really want to blame God because they want to think God loves them. But there is no one else to blame.
No one else to blame? Oh, yes, there is. There is Satan. We tend to forget Satan is out there too. It is Satan who causes bad to happen, not God.
Is that what you’ve done lately ~ blame God for bad happening, then rebel against him? Or do you know someone who is going through many problems not of their doing or choosing? Are they blaming God and rebelling against him? Help them. Remind them of Satan.
People want to blame someone. They will be relieved to be reminded that Satan exists. Now they can put the blame where it belongs.
Let us not blame God for the bad. Instead, let us thank Him for the good. And for hard things in our life so we can build our spiritual muscles. How can we have Victory in Jesus unless we have something to be victorious over? How can we be More than Conquerors unless we have something to conquer? Are we cowards? Do we run from hard work and exercise?
Look up! God knows what he is doing. He wants you to become a good person, a great person, a mighty person. But you must do it his way.
A CHILD’S BIBLE KIDS: KING JOASH was saved as a toddler when there was rebellion in the palace and idolatry everywhere in the kingdom. When he got old enough to rule as king, he ordered all the idols to be broken down and made a lot of people mad. They didn’t like God. To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2IEFtR3
The scripture for today, February 26 (2/26), is Ecclesiastes 2:26 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner, he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Are you happy regardless of how much wealth you do or do not have? Do you require things in order to be happy? Are you always out shopping around for new clothing, a new car, a new computer or television? Solomon, who wrote the above scripture, was the wealthiest man in the world, but he found it to be meaningless, a chasing after the wind. In another place in Ecclesiastes (5:10) he said that a man loving money never has enough.
Indeed, centuries later, the highly educated and intelligent apostle Paul, who did not own a home or much of anything else, explained his happiness: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11b-12).
If you lost everything tomorrow, would you panic? Or would you use God’s wisdom and knowledge to create a new happiness? Might you look around and begin doing something you have always wanted to do but were too tied down with things to do? If you lost everything tomorrow, might it bring a new freedom to you or paralyze you?
365 PEARLS OF WISDOM: GOD’S SOUL TO YOURS is book 2 in the TOUCHING GOD trilogy for every day of the year. Book 1 is inspirational thoughts, book 2 is wise sayings, book 3 is prayers. To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: amzn.to/TouchingGod
The scripture for today, February 25 (2/25), is Revelation 2:25 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Only hold on to what you have until I come.”
Several years ago, my 91-year-old mother left this life. Some say that, at the moment of death, one’s life flashes before their eyes. In the case of my mother, at the moment of her death, her life flashed before my eyes.
I suddenly imagined her as a baby in her mother’s (my grandmother’s) lap. Then she was a toddler playing in their yard. Then I saw her in school, then as a young bride to my father, then at home with her husband and children gathered around her. Then I saw her as launching a career after we were grown, then retiring, then eventually going into the nursing home.
And when that brief moment of envisioning her whole life was gone, I whispered, “You made it, Mother! You made it! You never faltered. Through all those years of ups and downs, you never wavered in your faith that Jesus Christ was real and would accept you into heaven. You stuck it out. And now you’re home!”
May you live your life in such a way that, despite your ups and downs, you never wander from Jesus. Stick with him through every storm, every flood, every blast of tragedy, every tumbling of dreams. Hold on to what you have until the day you leave this temporary life and enter your true eternal life.
LAZARUS: THE SAMARITAN lived through all Jesus’ parables over 45 years. He was the Good Samaritan, his sister was the Woman at the well, a son was the Prodigal Son, his daughter’s wedding had 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins. He became rich, then after betrayal became Lazarus in “The Rich Man & Lazarus”. To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2TbmHoH
The scripture for today, February 24 (2/24), is 1st Peter 2:24 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
Many people do not understand what Jesus dying on the cross has to do with rescuing us from hell and leading us to heaven. After all, if we don’t murder, steal, abuse others and only lie a little, Satan has no claim on us and God has no choice but to take us into heaven. As far as Satan is concerned, one sin is all it takes to be a sinner. Further, God is perfect, so cannot co-exist with imperfection ~ even one tiny sin.
Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. So, all through the Old Testament era, whenever we sinned, God told us to kill/sacrifice a perfect animal and spill its blood to collect the death wages in our place. Notice, the animal had to be perfect. This was a temporary fix; Satan could be held off only so long.
Eventually, God materialized in a body and put his words in that body to be tempted in every way that we are (see Hebrews 4:15). Satan gave it all he got. But Jesus resisted all temptations and lived his entire life sinless. He was perfect morally, just as the sacrificial animals were perfect physically.
Then as the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), Jesus became the final sacrifice. Now, with a human body, he died in our place. He took the terrible wages of death from Satan for our sins. On the cross, he died spiritually (forsaken by God) and physically with blood dripping from the wounds in his hands and feet. Then the Father basically told the world, “I will consider you perfect too; all you have to do is believe in and follow my Son, my Words who was with you in your form and died for you.” But how?
It is explained further in Romans 6:3-4. Just as Jesus died bearing our sins, we die to our sinful nature ~ the part of us that sins and doesn’t care. Then just as Jesus was buried in his tomb, we are buried in the watery tomb of baptism. And finally, just as Jesus rose up out of his tomb the Savior, we rise up out of our watery tomb the saved ~ born again to a new life.
Indeed, by Jesus’ wounds we can be healed. We fall at his feet and say, “I am a sinner and so unworthy. How can I thank you enough for rescuing me from Satan?”
WAS JESUS GOD? researches why God’s Word had to materialize and enter our world, the world that Satan controls ~ or at least thinks he does. Much discussion about Satan and his “unholy jihad” against mankind. To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2Tbk31Z
The scripture for today, February 23 (2/23), is 1st John 2:23 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
This verse tells us the Son and Father are one. Isaiah 9:6 calls the child to be born both the Son and the Father and Mighty God. The Son gives birth to the Father; the Father gives birth to the Son. In other words, God is self-existent and one.
When you speak into a tape recorder and your voice then comes out of that machine for other people to hear, that doesn’t make you two. You are still one; you have just chosen to put your voice in something where you can be heard by people away from you. That tape recording is just another form of you. You can also put your voice and body in a movie. That doesn’t make two of you ~ one on the screen and one in your physical body. You are still one.
God is One, and yet he revealed a part of himself in a burning bush to Moses just like you revealed a part of yourself in the tape recorder or movie. Does that mean there were two Gods ~ one in heaven and one in the bush? No. God can and has sometimes revealed himself in different ways. Remember how he walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?
Some say, “If Jesus was God on earth, when he died, God was dead.” No. That temporary body was dead, but God’s Spirit, God’s Soul, God’s being continued to live. Jesus, the Word of God, did not depend on a body to be alive.
Why would Jesus be called the Son of God, since he was not a son created in the literal way we have sons? You have thoughts and those thoughts have existed as long as you have. But you still created those thoughts. When your thoughts become hearable or seeable, people call that your “brain child”. In that same sense, Jesus was God’s “brainchild” ~ God’s thoughts in hearable and seeable form.
How was he the only begotten Son? God has only one Word ~ the Bible. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3). When God spoke the world into existence, that was Jesus. Every time God spoke, that was Jesus.
WAS JESUS GOD? is something more people are thinking about these days, especially with Muslims accusing us of believing in three Gods. Walk with me step by step as we look at the logic of God being one. As I tell my Muslim students, we have to have a spiritual mind to understand it. To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2Tbk31Z
The years rolled by. Winter followed the rains. Summers returned.
When certain preachers visited, Botiyasi wondered and puzzled over their messages. Their words did not sound like the lessons he had learned in school.
“I want to learn how to preach,” he told his wife. He walked twenty miles to the best preacher he could think of: Bicycle Sianjina.
“Teach me how to preach!” he demanded.
“Hey, fellow,” Bicycle said, “this is planting season. What’s your panic? Wait until after harvest.”
“I’ll help you plough. Teach me as we walk behind the oxen.”
Botiyasi stayed at Bicycle’s village for three months. He turned the fields, planted, fertilized and weeded ? and listened. Holy fire kindled, then blazed. Time had come to return home.
When he reached his village, he gathered people. A new congregation began regular worship services under a central tree in his village. Some folk liked his devotion and fervor. Most did not. Botiyasi refused to honor the ancestral spirits. This angered traditional tribesmen. When two of Botiyasi’s children died, these animists found an opening to challenge his careless ways. They pounced on him.
“You see? Your forefathers have punished you! Honor them before they bring bad luck to us as well!”
“I trust Jesus,” Botiyasi said. “You need to trust Him too.”
“Who stays in that new hut?” Botiyasi asked as he cycled through a nearby village one morning.
“That one off to the side?” a local said. “Oh, that’s just one of Father’s distant cousins. He lived in Chikankata Leper Colony for years. Now he’s come home to die.”
Botiyasi pushed his bicycle toward the hut.
Botiyasi stopped and looked back over his shoulder.
“Don’t go there. He has leprosy, man!”
Botiyasi ignored the warning and marched toward the hut.
“You gonna die, man!”
Botiyasi kept walking. Already he could smell a problem. The hovel stank like an overflowing latrine.
“Don’t be a fool. You think Jesus will protect you from leprosy?”
“He does whatever He wishes,” Botiyasi said. “If Jesus walked here, He would visit this mudaala ? this old man.”
The grass wall made a good place to lean his bicycle. Botiyasi took a deep breath and held it as he ducked under the low thatch. He peered through the door and retched when he saw the old man’s condition. Nobody had helped the leper to the bush to relieve himself. Feces smeared the withered body. Urine soaked his shabby clothing and tattered blanket.
“What a vile way to die,” Botiyasi thought. “I need a hoe and plenty of soap.”
He scraped the hut clean and buried the filth. While he heated water to bathe the old man, he walked to the river, a sliver of Sunlight Soap in his pocket. He knelt on a stone at the water’s edge and began to scrub the old man’s rags. Then he walked back to bathe the old man. There wasn’t much to wash. His skin stretched tight over his frame. Veins stood out on his arms and scalp. He was just a black skeleton. As Botiyasi rubbed soap over the fingerless hands, he felt the scales and scabs beneath his fingers. He scrubbed the toeless feet and worked Vaseline into the cracked heels.
Children chattered. Botiyasi looked up from his work. A nervous group toted a food bowl toward the hut. The youngsters crouched at the door and scooted the enamel dish across the sandy floor into the hut. The children scampered away, giggling. Botiyasi poked a finger into the stiff food. Yesterdays tallowed leftovers clung to his skin, cold and greasy. Those kids are all the company the old fellow has all day, Botiyasi realized.
He lifted the old man’s head and helped him sip warm gruel.
“Jesus loves you!” he laughed. “You are not too old or sick to pray.” Then he began to sing, “Izuba talibbili!” He crooned and rocked the frail body in his arms. “Night never comes in heaven.”
Supper over, he opened his Bible and read aloud. Page after page, until the ancient slept.
Botiyasi served the old man every day after that. Every day they prayed, and Botiyasi read and sang.
One afternoon the old leper’s fingerless paw scraped at his arm. “Baptize me,” he said, “Baptize me now, little brother. I want to be with Jesus.”
“Of course, mudaala. You honor me.”
Botiyasi rose to his knees. He shoved his sturdy arms under the slight body and lifted. The burden was not great. He carried the old man down to the stream, down to a place well below the pool where the people drew their water. People do not like washed?off sins in their drinking water, Botiyasi knew. He wanted no criticism about that.
He waded, the leper in his arms, into the chilly pool. There he knelt, easing the old man into the water until all but his trembly head lay beneath the lily pads. Botiyasi pronounced the ancient words of blessing, then dipped the old man’s head. As he came up from the water, still in Botiyasi’s arms, the new?born ancient grinned up at the young man, exposing all three of his snaggly teeth.
“Thank you, young brother,” he quavered. “Now I am ready.”
Back at the hut, Botiyasi toweled the scrawny body. He covered the leper with a blanket, and rose to go.
“Pray for me, young man. Pray for me,” the quavering voice wheezed.
Was that the sparkle of tears in his eyes?
“What would you have me to say?”
“I am ready to die now,” the old man whispered. “I don’t want to wait. Pray that Jesus will take me home. Pray that He will take me home right now.”
Botiyasi just stood there a moment, speechless. He choked, then cleared his throat. Kneeling beside his friend, he spoke the request the old man coveted. After a quiet moment he rose, stooped under the low doorpost and climbed on his bicycle.
Next morning, Botiyasi found the old man dead.
“Ha, ha, ha!” the locals mocked. “What a Christian you are!
You pray for people and they die! Ha, ha, ha! You will soon die of the same disease, you silly fool.”
Botiyasi hefted his hoe, the same hoe he had used to clean the floor. Perhaps those who taunted him thought he might strike at them. Instead, he turned his back on them, found a decent gravesite and began to hammer the earth. The same strong arms that had buried the old man in water the day before now laid him in God’s earth. The same embers that once boiled the old man’s soup served now to incinerate his shack.
Job done, Botiyasi dusted his hands and swung a leg over the saddle of his cycle. As he cranked the pedals toward home, he began to sing, “Izuba talibbili…”
Some forty years later, on his deathbed, Botiyasi gave instructions for his own funeral.
“Weep if you wish,” he said. “But don’t wail like people who have no hope. When you put my body in the ground, my spirit will stand by you and watch. I want you to sing “Izuba talibbili.” When you start to sing that hymn, I will leave you and enter the gates of heaven.”
The scripture for today, February 22 2/22), is Ephesians 2:22 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Another place in the New Testament, 2nd Corinthians 6:16, says we are the temple of God. A lot of things in worship under the Law of Moses were literal versions of what Christians someday would enjoy in a spiritual and deeper sense.
We have no need of the temple in Jerusalem, for now God dwells in Christians. We have no need of the altar of sacrifice at that temple because Jesus was our final sacrifice (Hebrews 10:4-12). We have no need of the cymbals, harps and lyres played in their worship because Christians play on the strings of their hearts (Ephesians 5:19).
We have no need of the priestly system in the Law of Moses with the special vestments and titles because all Christians are priests (1st Peter 2:5). And how do we serve as priests? Romans 12:1 explains it: “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.”
What a concept! God does not dwell in temples or church buildings!
He dwells in Christians.
He lives and moves through Christians.
What a privilege.
What a responsibility.
WORSHIP THE FIRST-CENTURY WAY contrasts the Old Testament way of worshipping with the New Testament way. Each chapter is about one of the forms of worship (e.g., prayer). It begins with quotes from famous theologians and ends with quotes from 2nd Century writers (the body of each chapter being 1st-century writers in the N.T.). To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2IwNAiR
The scripture for today, February 21 (2/21), is Daniel 2:21 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“He [God] changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”
It seems there is always some amount of restlessness within each nation regarding who is ruling. Some people like the ruler, some do not. Or people may start out liking the ruler, but later dislike him. Some rulers are okay, a few are considered outstanding, and a few others are outright evil.
But God sets up the rulers of nations and deposes them. Many places among the prophets of the Old Testament, God explains that he may raise up a cruel leader just because he is strong enough to get rid of other cruel people. After that, God deposes the cruel leader.
In the midst of all this, innocent people are always hurt. That is why it is important for us not to complain, but to bear up under a hard government with patience and courage. It is in hardship that the true heart of a Christian is revealed. And it is in hardship that many people turn to God who might never have done so.
God knows what he is doing, even if we do not understand ~ at least, on this side of eternity. Remember Romans 8:28 ~ “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Life is a mosaic of many colors ~ sometimes bright and sometimes dark ~ but in the end, it can be beautiful.
LUKE: SLAVE & PHYSICIAN did not start out in life intending for the Roman Empire to conquer his country and take him as a slave. But he ended up being the physician of the apostle Paul. Read about his journey from slave to physician. To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2IrcgJt
The scripture for today, February 20 (2/20), is Galatians 2:20 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The apostle Paul wrote this. He had been an angry, spiteful, and hateful man in his younger days. He had been a terrorist and had even declared holy jihad against Christians. He had gone around the country rounding up Christians, torturing them to get them to renounce Jesus, then sending them either to prison or to their death. He hated Christians.
But once Jesus got his attention and Paul realized he was persecuting those who could tell him the true way to heaven, he switched sides. Jesus had to do it himself because all the Christians were afraid of him. Then Paul, so to speak, crucified his old self, and let Jesus and his words live in him instead. All the tremendous energy that he had used for hate was now used for love, and he turned his part of the world upside down for Christ.
Is there someone in your life or that you know of who is angry, spiteful, and hateful? Dare to talk to that person and tell them how much God loves them. S/he will argue with you and maybe even be meaner to you than ever. But when things calm down, try saying something else, perhaps about what Jesus did or said once in his life.
It may take you months or years. S/he will be curious why you keep coming back when s/he is being so mean to you. And eventually, this same person who uses all his enormous energy in a negative way, just might turn that same enormous energy around and use it for Jesus in a great way.
Give it a try. If you are crucified with Christ, then nothing anyone says can hurt you because your ego is dead. Keep trying to reach this enemy of Jesus. Keep trying to help this person become Jesus’ friend and defender.
You may be the only one in his or her world with the courage to do it. Keep trying. Cry in private after the insults, then take a deep breath and try once again. And once again. And again. Never stop. Who knows?
PAUL: THE UNSTOPPABLE had to be stopped. He was on the wrong side. It took Jesus, personally, to stop him. He switched sides, then became unstoppable for Jesus. Each time he was beaten or lashed because of his stubbornness, he cried out, “Jesus! This is for You!”. To BUY NOW, click a picture or paste this: https://amzn.to/2JeHZZg