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To Berean or not to Berean, that is the question

Who from the Bible do you think you are most like? From time to time a personality quiz has come across my Facebook feed saying it can tell me which person from the Bible I am most like. I always take it and usually am told that I am John the Beloved. However, if you know me I think that we would both say that I am more like a Peter because like Peter I can be impulsive when it comes to Christ.

Maybe you are like me and imagine yourself as the biblical character you are reading about. When you read about David and Goliath you become David. Or maybe, you read about all of Josephs’s hard times and because you to have struggled in this life, you become Joseph.

In order to place yourself in their shoes, you need to read the Scriptures, or at least the accounts from the Scriptures. And it takes time to do this.

Have you ever just sat back and calculated how many hours a day you are awake. On average people sleep about 7 hours per night and that means that you are awake for 17 hours a day. I want to break those hours down into minutes, so on average, we are awake 1020 minutes a day. Wow, that is a lot of minutes!

Let’s put a pin in that thought for a second. Although I may be more like a Peter (and there is nothing wrong with that) there is a group of people I would rather identify with. We can find them in the book of Acts. Which reads: The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now, these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (17:10‭-‬11)

See because God has designed each of us uniquely, I cannot be Peter, however, you and I can be like a Berean.

As seen in the scripture above the Bereans eagerly examined the scriptures to see if Paul was telling the truth. They weren’t just reading the Word for the first or second time, they knew it enough to be able to check and make sure everything they were being told by Paul was accurate. It didn’t take them years or months to fact check the Gospel because they knew where to find the scriptures Paul was using to point them to Jesus. And ultimately help them in accepting Christ as Savoir.

We could be this way. We could be eager for God’s Word. We could be Bereans, but to be a Berean we have to manage our time better. We are awake for 1020 minutes a day, how much of that time are you eager for drawing close to God through His Word and prayer.

Maybe you did not know this but for 15 minutes a day, you can read through the Bible in a year. 15 minutes is only a bit over 1 percent of your daily waking minutes.

To put it another way, we are told to test the spirits, (1John 1:4) how can we test them if we are not studying the Word like the Bereans? If we do not know or seek out the truth how will we know how to test them at all?

Prayer:

God help me to be more faithful with the time you have given me. Help me to draw closer to You.

In Jesus’s name

Amen.

The Priestly Protagonist Procrastinator

This blog is a hard one to write. Mainly because I am a huge admirer of the person whom I am writing about. His name is one of three that I would give as an answer to the question, What person from the past or present would you most like to have lunch with? His name is Jehoiada.

Jehoiada appears in the books of 2 Kings (11 and 12) and in 2 Chronicles (21-23). He was the High Priest st during the reign of Queen Athaliah and King Jehoash. He led a revolt against Athaliah that restored Judah and the lineage of David back to the throne. He also brought the hearts of Judah back to Yahweh. Jehoiada is the only High Priest to have ever been buried (after his death of course) with the Kings of Judah.

He was just pretty amazing! However much like us and unlike Jesus, he had a sinful nature. And I would like to assert that he was a bit of a procrastinator. In 2 Chronicles 24, King Jehoash told the priests and the Levites to go and collect taxes from Judah and to use that money to repair the temple. Then 23 years passed by and nothing was restored. So the king summoned Jehoiada and other priests and asked them why they had not done as he commanded concerning the house of the LORD. After that, a plan was put into place and the Temple was restored.

I encourage you to be a Berean and to read the scriptures listed above. I wholeheartedly believe that you will see it in the same light that God has shown it to me. On a side note, I have procrastinated in writing this entry and that is tragically funny. Maybe that is why God has shown it to me.

Here are some verses to help with overcoming procrastination-for the next time you are stuck in that rut.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV

yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James 4:13‭-‬14 ESV

Or

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
Matthew 24:44‭-‬46 ESV

Prayer

Oh, Abba, Father. Thank you so much for your patience with me. Even when I slack off and do not complete things in a timely manner. I need Your help to be more urgent with tasks in this life, whether from you or from someone who knows that I belong to You. LORD help me to be that faithful ambassador and the faithful servant that You call me to be.

In Jesus Name

Amen

And the Grand Prize Goes to….

Let’s see, thus far we have covered Bi-Polar Disorder and Depression, so this week I would like to study someone who I believe is the front runner for suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

You know I have never actually heard anyone accuse someone else of being a Narcissus. At least not in real life, however, it is a term that I have heard in movies. Usually referring to someone who is extremely self-centered. I think they may have even been the bad guys in the storyline. Someone this self-centered would have to be a bad guy, right?

Let me ask you a question concerning the last statement. What traits would a person have to display in your mind in order to qualify them as being a bad person, or in the movies a villain?

Here are some names of people in the Bible that may have been Narcissists and they may have been seen as the villain in the part that they played in history.

King Herod (Agrippa): In chapter 12 of the book of Acts, we read that he violently killed James and threw Peter in jail. Now neither of these things would qualify him as being a Narcissist however at the end of this chapter he drops dead from refusing to give God the glory (v23). It is kind of funny when you think about it, but Narcissism must have run in the Herod family. Herod the Great murder Jewish boys at the time of Jesus’ birth because of his fear of losing the throne. Herod the Tetrarch (the father of Herod Agrippa from above) felt he was above the law and took his brother Philip’s wife to be his own.

However, these guys are not the droids we are looking for. In fact, the Homecoming King of the Narcissistic ball goes to King Nebuchadnezzar.

I don’t know how well you know King Nebuchadnezzar or how you view him, but at his time the Jewish people viewed him as a villain. He murdered kings, princes, guards and anyone who opposed him. He torched Jerusalem and destroyed the temple of God. Remember Nineveh from the book of Jonah, well he destroyed it.

At the time he was unstoppable and for good reason. In Books like Jeremiah (27) and Nahum, God tells his people as well as the people of the other surrounding kingdoms that King Nebuchadnezzar is going to come and that he will execute God judgment upon them for their disobedience.

I want to lay this all out for you; no army in the Middle East was able to stand against him, not even Jerusalem. Assyria, Egypt, the Ammonites, the Moabites, etc. all fell at his feet or by his sword. And God Himself told all these nations that Nebuchadnezzar was coming and specifically used Nebuchadnezzar’s name. This would give me a god complex how about you?

It did for Nebuchadnezzar. He ended up making for himself a statue of gold in his likeness which was 90 feet tall. Then one night while he was walking in his gardens he looked up and gave himself credit for how big his kingdom had become instead of giving credit where credit was do. To God!

One of the reasons I picked Nebuchadnezzar as the Homecoming King of the Narcissistic Ball other than meeting some criteria on a website is that he is me and I am willing to bet at times he is you. See anytime that we put sin above God and choose to gratify our fleshly desires in some part we become Narcissists. Praise God for sending his son for us, and washing away our sins. Now and forever! So let us draw near to the throne of God and allow His glorious presence to change us.

Prayer

Abba, Father please forgive me for being short-sided and thinking only of myself. LORD help me to desire You above all else.

In Jesus name,

Amen!

Remnant = Support

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:14

There have been times where I feel like I can totally empathize or is it sympathize with Elijah( maybe it is both). How about you?

I know in my walk there have been times where the weight of my sins have made me feel alone and on the verge of defeat. Now I know that my circumstances are different from Elijah, in that I am not being persecuted by rulers or other people because of living out my faith or obeying God. At times, however, I do feel that Satan and his minions are putting so much pressure on me that I will crack. And Elijah felt just this way.

Elijah felt this way so much so that he was pleading with the LORD in verse 4 to take his life from him. He felt like he was alone and helpless. He felt that his fate was going to be the same as his fathers. And this is the area that I and maybe you can empathize with him.

When dealing with overcoming sin in our lives, at times we do feel helpless, alone and defeated. I know that there have even been times where I have pleaded with God, “saying that it would better for me to come home than to stay and fight.” Let me state here that in no way am I saying that I have contemplated suicide! Just like I am sure Elijah wasn’t thinking about taking his own life. What I am saying is that maybe I just wanted the easy way out.

In all of this, however, God restores Elijah’s hope and hopefully ours as well. In verse 15, 16 and 18 the Word states,”

And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be a prophet in your place. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:15‭-‬16‭, ‬18

I love this blessed reassurance! God, in His still, small voice tells Elijah that He is bringing about change and that He is going to bless him with brothers to help him to not feel defeated and alone anymore.

Another verse that I love that goes so well with these verses and quenches that idea of loneliness is from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Just like for Elijah, God has risen people up to help us in our battles against sin. People like our spouses and our brothers or sisters, so let us soak up all that our heavenly Father is pouring our way.

Challenge

Plug into a group of people who are willing to help carry your burdens, and carry some of their’s as well.

Bittersweet

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6‭-‬8

So many mornings during my prayer time, I pray this verse. And while doing so the gravity of it smacks me Leroy Jethro Gibbs style in the back of the head. If you are searching for what that means you can watch any NCIS episode and see him (Mark Harmon) doing this to any one of his subordinates. And he does not do it as a lack of respect but rather as he explains it; as a wake-up call. God does this a lot in our lives ( at least He does in mine), gives us wake up calls I mean.

But I digress. While it is so awesome for us that Jesus took our place by taking the punishment that we so fully deserve; there is still another side to this. It is so humbling, even saddening to know that my Savoir and King had to be beaten and scourged and hung on a tree because of my rebellion against my Father. Jesus suffered because I sinned. This rocks my world! Constantly!

Think about it, every lash of the whip, the insulting slaps in the face, the pricking of the crown of thorns, the mocking, the carrying of the cross, the nails, the insults the were hurled at him while hanging on the cross. All the way to the blade piercing his side were all because of our sins. More personally my sins.

The cross is so beautiful but at times it breaks me! So I just wanted to share this thought with you.

Commitment

I need to try and be more aware of the gravity of my sins and what they cost. How about you?

Questions

1) When you read the living word of God, do you use it in your prayer life or how about in you life?

2) Are there pieces of Scripture that break you, what are you going to do about that?

Cited

NCIS, 2003, Belisarius Productions, CBS

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, 2003, Belisarius Productions, CBS

Deepening Grace

The level of knowledge that we have about something either makes us love that thing or be indifferent to it. Take your spouse, for example. When you first met them, you did not know them and it was okay just going out or hanging out. As your relationship grew, and the closer the two of you became, and you spent more time together. Where you once did not know what made them tick, now you do. Now, you know their likes and dislikes. The more time the two of you spent together is in direct correlation to the amount of knowledge you gained about them.

This is how relationships work or do not work. This is also how our relationship with God works or does not work. Time equals understanding.

I love how in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (vs 11) As Paul (and ourselves) grew up, he gained knowledge and was able to discern what was expected of a man (or woman) and to adjust his actions accordingly. Having a deepened understanding of expectations in certain areas absolutely helps in bringing enjoyment to our adult lives, just as it does in marriages and our relationships with God.

We can only be close to God through the grace that He has poured out on us through His Son. God provided the way. He opened the door. He tore the veil. He made it so we could have a relationship with him.

God is holy. He is perfect, unblemished. He is so many things that we are not and never could be without Him. Another one of those things is: He is good. Jesus, the son of God, is described as a man who knew no sin (2 Cor.5:21) and even he says, “no one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

Good is a comparative term. When we herald that we are good, what we are actually saying is that we are better than most. Which is wrong on so many levels, one, being that our comparison is base on what we see or have experienced about other people in our circle. This is a biased judgment and its basis comes from other flawed people. Flawed people and things make for extremely poor judgment.

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

A. How would you stack up against the only man who never sinned? Against Jesus, who would not even let someone call him good?

B. Do you know what God’s Word says about people who choose to sin?

C. Are we so depraved and/or ignorant about what sin is?

In the book of Romans, Paul says, “that we all sin and that no one seeks God” (3:11 and 23).

Sin is anything that goes against what God says we should do. Lying, cheating, stealing are all example of things that have blemished us. Have you ever embellished? Well, that is lying. Have you ever used something without permission? That is theft. The list goes on and on, and we have all done these things. And because of that, we are dirty, we are blemished.

I have a perfect example of this. When I was a child, my parents would buy me new clothes for school or for times where play clothes were inappropriate. Now, there were times that I would wear these new clothes out to play and would get grass stains on them. Grass stains are horrible and are extremely hard – if not impossible to get out. These stains ruined many pairs of jeans and dress pants. And, it is not like I could bleach them in the knees to rid them of the stains because the pants were blue or black and not white.

Sin in our lives is exactly like that; it is a stain that we ourselves cannot remove. It is a blemish and according to God, blemished/dirty things cannot come before him. In fact, dirty and blemished things where disposed of. They would be taken outside of camp and burnt up.

God says that if we break his laws, we have become cursed and that cursed people will be hung on a tree (Duet. 21:23, Gal. 3:13).

However, thanks be to God! And the grace that He has shone us through Christ on the cross.

There is this Parable that Jesus told that brings all of this into perspective.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that Jesus was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now, when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”(Luke 7:37‭-‬43)

Jesus goes on to say to Simon, “I entered your house and you provided me with no water to wash my feet and this lady has cleansed my feet with her tears and hair.” And why do you suppose that this lady did this act of love? It was because she knew what we need to know. She knew that only Jesus can redeem us. Only Jesus can forgive our sins. She knew that nothing inside of herself could make her right with God. She knew that without our only Hope it was hopeless. She would never be able to see God’s eternal rest without Jesus. She was destined for that dark place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. She was destined for hell. As are we without Christ.

So, here is this sinner crying on Jesus’ dirty feet. Now when I say dirty it is not like our feet when they are dirty. Sure our feet might smell or maybe even be black on the bottom from walking around barefoot. But that is nothing in comparison to the feet of people who wear sandals and whose only mode of transportation is walking. Sun and rain exposed feet. And to go further she then took her hair; that’s right her hair not a rag, and wiped clean Jesus’ now muddy feet.

I do not know about you, but I do not like wet gooey things touching my hands more less the little hair I have. But Jesus’ response to her was to tell her, her sins were forgiven. What grace, no lecture, no judgment, just grace.

Questions

1. Has there ever been a time where you were gripped by the greatness of your sins and the depth of the grace of God and that brought you to tears?

2. Has this ever happened to you while you were standing with brothers and sisters before the altar worshipping Yahweh?

Prayer

Oh, Abba Father, please forgive my blatant disobedience and may Your grace continue to ever change me.

In Jesus name, Amen

Cisterns

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13, ESV

I am sorry I took so much time off from writing. I have allowed so many distractions to enter my life. Some good, some not so good. Sometimes, I just go through the motions. Perhaps, you know what I mean.

I have – more times then I would like to admit – just darted through God’s Word instead of actually meditating on it. I have been so repetitive in my prayer life at times that I feel that it may be bordering on vain repetition. Instead of just being still in the presence of Almighty God, I allow myself to get so busy that…well I push God aside, for other things; for cisterns and broken ones at best.

Here is the thing though, there have been times where I am bored and have filled that time with drinking from cisterns that contain things like: watching way too much tv, getting lost in video games, or spending all my time watching movies. And, it is not just limited to being bored, but also as a way of trying to sooth hurt in my life as well.

We can put so many other things in front (or in place) of seeking the Lord, and Israel did this as well. One of those times was when Jeremiah was a prophet, it was so bad that the Israelites were complaining that God wasn’t hearing their prayers or intervening on their behalf. But they, much like ourselves, had put distractions in their way; they had worshipped gods (idols) that weren’t gods. Gods, in no way, that had any power.

Does that sound familiar? We can correct this dilemma, though and scripture can help us. Pieces like Deuteronomy 6:5 give us a key to this lock by telling us that you “need to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Think about it, we love ourselves, right? We do whatever it takes to make ourselves happy, right? If there is something we want, we buy it or save up so we can buy it regardless of the circumstances. I used to think that because I worked hard anything I wanted should be mine. I made myself the king of my life and this brought a lot of hardship into my life emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Maybe you have been there? But, in doing this I failed to acknowledge the real KING of KINGS. In fact, I was so selfish that I put so much distance between God and myself, and this is exactly what the Israelites did.

As a group, we worshipped gods that aren’t gods. They worshiped Molech, Baal, Chemosh and Dagon – which is no different than us worshipping money, possessions, fame, and self. All of these things, by the way, are broken cisterns.

Challenge

Choose a piece of scripture, it does not have to be a big piece. Sit down with it, read it several times, see what some commentaries say about it, see how it relates to the people of the time it was written and then relate it to your own life. Then, ask God to use it in your life and mean it.

So, what can we do to change this? The answer is love the LORD more.

Questions

1. Are there some broken cisterns in your life that you lean on instead of leaning on God?

2. Are you serious about your walk with the LORD or are there some distraction that get more of you attention?