Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zoar #atozchallenge

Lot flees from Sodom (Wiki)

The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.

Genesis 19:23

New King James Version (NKJV)

       When Lot and his family fled Sodom, the angel told them that they must escape the cities of the plain and go to the mountains in order to escape the judgement of the destruction of the cities.  Instead though, Lot negotiated to allow them to take refuge in the small town of Zoar--one of the cities of the plain that was slated for destruction. 

           It is interesting to note that the arrival at Zoar of Lot's family coincided with the rising of the sun.  They had escaped through the darkness in order to reach safety and when they reached that safe place they were blessed with light.  

           It's likely that Zoar was just as evil as Sodom and Gomorrah, but God's grace extended the coverage of protection to keep Lot's family safe.   If we are presently in darkness our Zoar will not be an evil place of darkness, but a place of light and hope.   The Zoar ruled by the Son of God Jesus Christ is a kingdom of salvation.   

           For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14
New International Version (NIV)

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Youth #atozchallenge

English: "Make them known unto thy childr...
"Make them known unto thy children and thy children's children." Deuteronomy 4:9. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

English Standard Version (ESV)

           Child-rearing is a great responsibility.   Not all parents are successful and the consequences are often unfortunate.   Exposing children to Biblical precepts starting at an early age is important in shaping their later years.  Reading Bible based stories and, more importantly, reading directly from the Bible provides a foundation for upright moral behavior.  From the beginning of life, children can be guided onto a path that they will be likely to follow into adulthood.

            Taking children to church is also helpful.  They enjoy the songs and the worship experience.  Seeing others praising God and communing together as a unified body sets a good example for them and helps them become aware of the community of the faithful.   The Bible study classes can be educational and fun if the church has such programs.  Also most churches have other activities for children that provide wholesome fun and good company.

             Love at home is the most important part of raising mentally and spiritually healthy children.   However don't neglect a healthy social life that includes God and godly people.

Parents, don’t be hard on your children.  Raise them properly.  Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

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Monday, April 28, 2014

X Is Not An Unknown Factor for God #atozchallenge

X FACTOR (Photo credit: eisenbahner)

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.

Psalm 115:1

New International Version (NIV)

         Traditionally an illiterate person has been allowed to sign their name with a simple "X".  The "X" was not the person's name, but a replacement for the name they were unable to read or write.  During the Christmas season we often will see the name/title of the Christ replaced with an "X".  There are several reasons for this, some innocently done and some with devious intent.  Generally most of us know what the "X" stands for and there is arguably a long tradition of using the "X" to designate Christ.   This use of "X" is more often used as an abbreviation of sorts and not a replacement of the name.   This is a somewhat minor issue over which to be concerned.

          When "X" becomes the unknown or replaceable factor then Christians should resist.  From the beginning of history people have looked for substitutes for God.   Humans have a worldly equation for what will bring them happiness and in many cases they substitute God with an unknown factor which is what they think will provide them what they are looking for to make their lives better.

           The replacement in their equations can be a person, money, or material things.  They may replace God with work, education, or the pursuit of pleasure.   All of these and other like things are fine as parts of our lives, but they should not be what we place all of our hope and belief upon.  Worldly things are notorious for letting us down.

              There is no replacement for God as the number one factor in the equation of eternal life.  God has a human name in Jesus Christ.   We might sign with an "X" but we must say the name of Jesus.   There is no other way to attain salvation but through Jesus Christ.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12

New International Version (NIV)
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

The House of the Lord

St Andrews Cathedral on Clyde Street
St Andrews Cathedral on Clyde Street (Photo credit: Beth M527)

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

King James Version (KJV)

            It is good to be in the presence of God at all times.   We keep ourselves further from sin and closer to the peace and contentment that God can provide.   Not many of us would necessarily want to live in a church or some such sanctified facility.   Living the monastic life is certainly not the life that most of us would want to lead either.   But from the ideal perspective, the thought of dwelling with God can provide a great deal of security.

            When we have prepared ourselves for God to dwell within us then we are as God intends us to be.  Our days on Earth are short in comparison to our time in eternity.   If we are happy to be with God while on this Earth, then we have much to look forward to when we get to Heaven.

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

John 14:2

New International Version (NIV)

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Word #atozchallenge

Your Word
Your Word (Photo credit: rachel_titiriga)

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

King James Version (KJV)

          If you think back to the first chapter of Genesis you might recall that the first creation pronouncement of God was "Let there be Light."  (Genesis 1:3).  The comparison of light to the Word and to Jesus is a common theme throughout the Bible.  When we contemplate on the metaphor of the Word being a "lamp" and "a light unto my path" the meaning is very clear.

          The Bible is a book of illumination and guidance.  Through careful study of the Word of God many concepts and teachings become more lucid to our understanding.  Prayer, meditation, and the reading of the Word is a powerful combination in attaining a greater proximity to God the Father.

          When life is thought of as a journey on a path through time, it becomes easier to see the vast history of eternity and how we are all connected by the Word and the promise and hope that can be found within that Word.    The Bible is God's voice speaking to us--His Word.   

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

New International Version (NIV)

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Vine #atozchallenge

English: The Promised Land. View south west th...
English: The Promised Land. View south west through the trees from SD51930209 near Promised Land Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.

Psalm 80:8

New International Version (NIV)

        The descendants of Abraham were enslaved in Egypt for centuries before Moses led them on their quest to find the Promised Land.   After forty years of wandering the Jews were brought to the geographical location of the land that God had promised to them.

         Though the land had been promised to the Jews, they had to win it by acting under the authority of God to drive out the nations inhabiting that land.   Battles were fought and Israel became the nation of the Jewish people.  

          The disobedience of Israel in regard to the previous nations resulted in intermarriage of the peoples and pollution of the traditions of the faith.  False gods were often worshipped.   Rebellion against God continually has resurfaced.  And even though the Jewish people have been scattered throughout the Earth, God's promise to them concerning the land of Israel remains.   No other nations or organized bodies can rightfully undo what God has promised.

            Jesus was a Jew born in Israel.  Like the vine of the Jews transplanted from captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land in Israel, Jesus is the human embodiment of God transplanted to Earth.    Jesus is the vine from which his followers are nourished..   God has promised a Messiah to deliver us from our enslavement to sin and that Savior has come in the form of Jesus.    

           The Messiah Jesus Christ will one day return and rule from Jerusalem in Israel.  The Promised Messiah in the Promised Land.  God works in mighty and wonderful ways.   We can do all things through Him.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing..."

John 15:5

New International Version (NIV)

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Unbelief #atozchallenge

Utterly Alone
Utterly Alone (Photo credit: Michelle Brea)

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good.

Psalm 14:1

New International Version (NIV)

         We are not to judge the unbelievers, but to love them and pray for them.  Since the earliest days of history as we see recorded in the Bible humans have had a tendency to fall away from the One True God of Creation in order to worship false gods or no god.  They have that right to believe as they wish.  Their rebellion against God the Father will seal their fates in the end if that is what they wish to adhere.

          And before we condemn their sin remember that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).   We in belief are not better than they are.  We are all God's children and equal in his eyes.    God wants the unbelievers to come to Him and to love Him, but he will not exert his force to make them his.   

           We may have a right to unbelief, but we are wrong in doing so.   Jesus can disrupt relationships between those who differ regarding what they believe and don't believe, but Jesus can also heal those relationships when we ask for healing.

           Pray for the unbelievers and love them just as you would love those who believe the same as you believe.

 Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Jude 1:22-23

New International Version (NIV)

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tree #atozchallenge

English: Gustav Klimt: The Tree of Life
English: Gustav Klimt: The Tree of Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.  The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:8-9

New International Version (NIV)

        There are thirty-seven different kinds of trees mentioned in the Bible.  Specific types of wood were called for in building things like Noah's ark, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Great Temple in Jerusalem.  Trees play many roles in Biblical history and are often referred to metaphorically.  Jesus Christ was crucified on a "tree" while Judas hung himself from an actual tree.

        Trees are symbols of strength and stature.  Certain individuals and we as humans are sometimes compared to trees.   Trees have long lives, can be found in many places, and provide protection and comfort.    The wood from the trees can be shaped into useful items or used for building structures, ships, or furniture.   Trees are tremendously versatile and useful.

        Another point of interest is that in the beginning of creation God placed a "Tree of Life" in the Garden of Eden.  In the last chapter of the Bible we are told that in Heaven the Garden of Eden will be restored and we will once again have the Tree of Life.

         Trees are all around us.  If every time we saw a tree we thought about Jesus, we'd be thinking about Jesus a lot.       

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life,bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

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