Archive for May, 2022

5-30-2022 – A Word to the Wise – There are two sentences in scripture that just cut to the heart. The first is II Chron 21 “And after all this the LORD struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. In the course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. His people made no fire in his honor, like the fires made for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.

Do you see that; ‘he died with no one’s regret’. Now think about that, the man was so wicked that when he died there was no funeral, no memorial service and did not even get buried with the other kings. Moreover, he died and excruciating death. That just seems appropriate for our society with some of these mass murders. One may consider several people who deserve that requiem.

But the other passage is more personal let me sharer it. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”(Jn. 13)

This passage has always resonated with me. Jesus you will not wash my feet; you must not wash my feet. My sins are too great you cannot do it. I have felt that way. I know what Peter experienced.

While taking communion today the Lord put these words in my heart…..every time you participate in communion, I am washing your feet!!!

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5-20-2022 – A Word to the Wise – Who Did Jesus not Like

Most of us feel loved by the Lord. We have been taught all of our lives “For God so loved the world…. Yet I firmly believe there is a difference in being loved by the Lord and being liked by the Lord.

Even among the apostles there were those singled out for a special relationship. This is seen in the events surrounding the Transfiguration and then again in the Garden before His death. There are some in scripture who befriend Jesus. John at Jesus death the women who provided for His ministry are but a few.

It is obvious that there are those who Jesus forms bonds with, those He is fond of. His family members were not a part of this group. In fact, they are often at odds with Jesus and His ministry. There are others as well.

In John 5 we meet a man who Jesus heals then singles out for a later admonition. In verse 14 Jesus warns the man not to return to his sinful behavior or he will be worse off. The man then turns and betrays Jesus to His enemies. I doubt Jesus liked the man…He loved him, used His power to heal him, yet Jesus is not fond of the man.

In contrast John 9 gives us another personal encounter. Jesus heals the man and goes on His way. Subsequently the man is challenged and ridiculed by the Pharisees. Jesus makes a special effort to find the man and talk to him. There is a bond between the two.

The healing of the demoniac reveals this same type of encounter between Jesus and another person.

These few form quick and long lasting bonds with the Lord.

The enemies of Jesus, though He died for them, it is evident that He did not like them. I suspect in our time the same may be true. Those the Lord loves are many those He likes are few. Which are you?

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5-8-2022 – A Word to the Wise – JESUS AND HIS MOTHER

Let me be forthright. The issues surrounding Mary the mother of Jesus must be handled carefully. There is no desire to offend the Lord, or others. However, it is my contention that Mary is human, she is not divine and looking carefully at scripture her humanity is clear. We make a mistake if we expect perfection out of a human, any human.

There are some problems that exist between Jesus and his mother. The scriptures where Jesus is interacting with his mother leaves a far different impression than some in the religious world would paint. It seems to me from the very beginning Mary has a preconceived notion about who Jesus is and what his function will be. The notion has nothing to do with Jesus’ divinity. So, let’s begin with scripture.

Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered this what kind of salutation might be. Notice please a reoccurring situation with Mary, she is troubled. I would suppose all of us would be under such circumstances. But anxiety is a reoccurring theme with Mary. I imagined she was just flat frightened. Most certainly she is shocked. The angel then says; The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son and shall name him ‘Jesus.’ While this is unusual, we see a pattern beginning with Abraham and Sarah, (Gen. 18:9ff), Hannah and Samuel, (I Samuel 1:16 ff), Manoah (Judges 13 with Samson), Elisha and the Shunammite (2 Kings 4) and John the Baptist, so thought a rare occurrence it did happen.

Then the angel describes;” He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”

Mary is concerned about how this could come about, not the nature of the child she would give birth to. The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. Behold, Elizabeth your relative also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing spoken by God is impossible.” The angel shares with her a comparison that is the parents of John the Baptist in old age will have a son.

Mary said, “Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary accepts the reality of what is to take place however this does not mean she really understood the reality of the event as we shall see.

Next, we see the birth and the angels; When the angels competed their announcement, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough. When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child. All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it had told them.” Literally, however, Mary kept thinking about these words. What do these events mean?

Here again we see Mary somewhat confused about it all. Exactly what is she pondering? As we shall see her insight about all of this appears somewhat shallow. A few days later we find her in the temple again she marvels at what Simon says about Jesus. Joseph and Mary were marveling at the things which were spoken concerning him, and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Everyone seem to recognize just who he was but not Mary or Joseph

So, we may say at this point that Mary is somewhat surprised by the testimony of the angel, the shepherds, Simon, and perhaps Anna. It is as if she just does not comprehend the import of it all. Twelve years later the next incident occurs which gives further insight into her state of mind.

When Jesus is twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and his mother didn’t know it, but supposing him to be in the company, to him, they went a day’s journey, and they looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances. That is most certainly a problem in parenting. When they didn’t find him, they returned after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. Makes one wonder where the parents were looking.

When they saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said “Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you.” I wonder why Mary was not astonished by Jesus’ learning. By 10 or 11 Jesus would have been showing a profound knowledge of the scriptures in the synagogue if nowhere else. They have a genius if nothing else living in their midst yet no awareness of his abilities his grasp of the world, Torah, or other matters. Jesus grew up in a town not five miles from a raging wicked center. Likely him and his father even did construction work there and yet no inclination of what was in Jesus’ heart.

What has occurred during these 12 intervening years? Scripture does not say and yet there are things to know. First there is little doubt in my mind that Jesus was tormented by the other kids. Why? Because Mary was pregnant before her marriage. That condition was a real problem. We have indications of this in Isaiah 53:3” He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” I have addressed this in greater depth elsewhere. The manner in which Isaiah reads it is apparent that this not his ministry years. Moreover, Mary had other children, brothers, and sister to Jesus. I suspect their rejection of Jesus was a lifelong experience for Jesus and a source of rejection and abandonment.

Notice also in this passage that Mary is more concerned about her state of mind, her anxiety. When Jesus explains they still did not get it. He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus had lived with them 12 years they knew about this aspect of his behavior. They didn’t understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth. He was subject to them, and his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Did his parents notice now?

Let’s pause for a moment. Do we have any idea what the parents thought? I suspect that Mary and probably Joseph has the same idea of the general Jewish population. Here was the future king who would issue in a new era for the Jewish world. It was a popular notion of the day. But divinity? No. That will become even more clear as we proceed.

The third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine. Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.” Again, Mary is clueless about his work, its purpose when it was to begin and what is appropriate. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jews’ way of purifying.”

Surely one may say at this point Mary knew what he would be able to do. Else why ask him? Yet it must be understood there were many miracles’ being done at this period. Josephus the historian of this time period shares some of those incidents. (Josephus, Ant. 14:22-24). Also see Max Kadushin, The Rabbinic Mind (New York: Bloch, 1972). So, Mary would see Jesus as a miracle worker among peers. Thus, Mary and the family at this early time would have believed in his ability to work miracles, just as some other Rabbis of the period. The ability did not mean Jesus was the Son of God to them.

After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days. Here we find a very positive note about Mary her acceptance of the work of her son and being with him.

However, this ‘mutual affection’ quickly turns and now Mary is leading the group demanding that Jesus be put away because he is crazy. Here, now is the culmination of all the doubt and anxiety. Mary turns on her son. This could have been brought about by the serious problem in Luke 4 where Jesus is rejected in his hometown and no doubt his family as well.

It is in this context Jesus defines the unforgiveable sin and it’s not rejection of him, rather the Holy Spirit. His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent to him, calling him. A multitude was sitting around him, and they told him, “Behold, your mother, your brothers, and your sisters are outside looking for you.” He answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Looking around at those who sat around him, he said, “Behold, my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, and mother.” His family considered him crazy but what did the crowds thing?

The other women who followed Jesus saw him differently. Luke 8 gives us a bit of insight about the feelings of other women and how they support and follow Jesus. His mother, however, offers no support and is not counted as one of his disciples. Neither is the rest of his family for that matter. (John 7:5)

Soon afterwards, he went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of God’s Kingdom. With him were the twelve, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; and Joanna, the wife of Chuzas, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others; who served them from their means. However, no Mary.

Now we come to the conclusion of the matter. “But standing by Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Therefore, when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.”

The last time we see Mary is at the cross. I suspect she is mourning the death of her dream, that her son would be king and rule over the new nation. It finally sinks in Jesus is not who she thought he was. Why do I say that? She does nothing in preparing him for burial, in contrast the women disciples do help prepare him for burial, Mary is not present at the resurrection or any of the post resurrection visits. She had no reason to believe he would be raised from the dead. No mention is made about her after this.

I have no doubt that after Pentecost she was a believer, and she came to understand what it was all about but not in the beginning. Therefore, I think we see the human side of Mary the mother of Jesus. Her doubts, fears, anxieties, family problems and finally after Pentecost the purpose of it all.

In conclusion I wish to add that I do not want to risk the wrath of the Lord by being critical of his mother. However, it seems to me that Mary did not understand the nature of her son’s work until after his death. I am open to correction in this matter.

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5-5-2022 – A Word to the Wise – The present war in the Ukraine and Russia reminds us of the need to understand war from God’s perspective.

The Lord’s purpose for war is different from men’s or Satan’s.

Men wage war to avenge, kill, steal, and possess. War is Satan’s goal for mankind: to destroy, manipulate, and possess. But God wars to cleanse, protect, and serve. He uses war to inhibit the growth of evil. Men, in the end, align themselves with whom they wish.

Behavior on the battlefield is different from that on the Sunday-morning pew. The passage “as far as possible live in peace with all men” (Romans 12:18) does not apply to the battlefield. Turning the other cheek and “do unto others as you wish them do to you” are principles not practiced at the gates of hell (Matthew 5:39, 7:12). If one is to march into the very depth of Hades to rescue the perishing, then one best be armed with the finest fire protection available. One must be ready to use every weapon in God’s armory; ready to trade blow for blow with a fierce enemy who shows no mercy. Christian warriors need to understand God’s armory, strategies, and battle plans.

Few understand the depth of the conflict between Christians and Satan. The Enemy’s chief tactic is to blind people to the reality of warfare and the battlefields on which it occurs. Blindness prevents believers from becoming effective warriors. It obscures the battlefield and limits full utilization of God’s armory, tactics, and intelligence-gathering techniques. Offensive and defensive strategies are impossible to prepare under these circumstances.

A strong correlation exists between what takes place in physical combat and spiritual warfare. An understanding of the military campaigns found in God’s Word—how the Lord trained His warriors and the tactics employed—provides much insight into how to approach the spiritual struggles of the present. Often the tactics and training taught for physical warfare by God to ancient Israel apply to spiritual warfare in the present.

The origins of this material began with a lie. Most are aware that both the Lord and Satan place thoughts in our minds. The Lord’s purpose is to guide, test, direct and warn. Satan’s purpose if to tempt, confuse and terrorize. At the time of my marriage Satan planted the thought that my wife would die before we had been married twenty years. I believed it because of the terror of childhood and therefore interpreted life accordingly. Twenty years afterward, God revealed the truth. I was astounded; Satan had pulled a slick trick. How does one defeat such an enemy? My mind was filled with many questions after seeing the disaster he had created in my marriage by a simple believable lie. How does one fight insidious believable untruths? What weapons are available to defeat deceit? The questions continued in a never-ending flood but now with a slight change in direction. What weapons does God, and His warrior angels wield? What divine weapons are accessible to humans?

It is my belief that every Christian ought to examine biblical battles, geography, culture, religion, weapons, and attitudes to discern strategies for conducting warfare today. Principles of yesterday illuminate the paths of tomorrow. Knowledge about our Commander-in-Chief’s purposes and goals provides insight into how God intends to use each Christian in battles with the enemy. Preparation includes understanding the enemy’s tactics and weapons as well as God’s counter tactics. Training for military or spiritual assault is vital to ensuring victory. Passive acquiescence is acceptable for a civilian but deadly for the warrior.

It is important to recognize the strategies employed by the enemy. However, knowledge is of little importance if the skill is not incorporated into our behavior. Believe me, every Christian will at some point in their life find themselves in direct combat with the forces of evil. My marriage is in its 58th year, if Satan had his way it would have ended forty years ago.

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