The Addometer

I was cleaning out a cabinet drawer when I came across an interesting item. 

Addometer
Have you ever used one of these?

It is about 11 inches long and has a series of 8 dials with holes around each dial and numbers on the dial face corresponding to the holes.  A stylus is provided so that you can put its tip in the hole for the number you want to use, and then turn the dial to “enter” the figure you want added, or subtracted as the case may be.

Addometer 3
The Addometer – The portable adding machine for home or office!

The item is named the “Addometer” and the directions are written on the top of the item itself:

[1]  To add, use large figures – turn to right.  [2] to subtract, use small numbers – turn to left.

The box identifies the Addometer as “the portable adding machine for home and office”.

While it is true that the Addometer does, indeed, add and subtract by the use of the built in stylus, its use today is overwhelmed by the ease of doing calculations on a wide variety of devices, including but not limited to the cell phone!

I suspect our Addometer is doomed for the dump unless we can find a museum that needs to have a portable adding machine! The point, however, is that, although it was state-of-the-art when designed, the Addometer is no longer useful in the modern world.

Unfortunately, some place the Holy Bible in the same category as the Addometer … something that was useful once but which has no relevance to today’s world.  In their arrogance, the “Influencers” assert that we have grown past the Holy Bible; thus, its rules and guidelines are simply not necessary now.   In fact, those who hold the Bible in their hearts as the Word of the Almighty God are categorized as antiquated, as deluded and as uninformed to the light of today’s culture.

Beware of this kind of thinking.  It reeks of brimstone and is a delusion that has been used by Satan for millennia.  Satan tempted Adam and Eve when he said “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”   Of course, God had said that they could eat from every tree in the garden, except for one.  Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and the concept that Scripture is no longer relevant to our modern culture is a lie that people have swallowed — hook, line, and sinker.

Scripture, itself, tells the real story about its relevance to us, even in 2019:

“A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.””

Isaiah 40:6-8

Here the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah is told by God to cry to the people and tell them that they are like grass in the field.  Their pride and arrogance should be dissipated and they should humble themselves before the Almighty God because they are like grass and when God’s breath blows on them they will perish.  This is in direct contrast to the permanence of the very Word that God speaks.

“the word of our God will stand forever.”

Then we read further in the book Isaiah wrote, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he transmitted God’s message to the people of Israel, the following text about God’s Word:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:10-11

Here, Almighty God is telling the people that the effectiveness of His Word is unaffected by the people’s reaction to it.  We have no control over the rain or snow. It comes and the earth uses it to grow and bring forth food for us to eat.  Absent that rain and snow, we would not have water that is so necessary for our survival.  And that water is given to us by God, without our involvement in its delivery to us.

In like manner, God’s Word is His, and we have nothing to do with its delivery to us.  Rather, His Word will accomplish all that He purposes for it and His Word will succeed in each task for which it is intended.  We, in our extreme arrogance and conceit, have nothing to do with whether it succeeds or not … indeed, we are incapable of stopping the purposes of God.  He is omnipotent and, quite simply, we are not.  What He says will happen will, indeed, happen.

So, don’t place the Bible, the Holy Word of God, in the same category as the Addometer.  While the modern culture seems to be ignoring the precepts found in the Bible, rest assured that the culture’s digression away from the Scripture in no way mitigates or minimizes the truth of the Word of God.  Man may choose to ignore the directives and teachings of Scripture, but he does so at his eternal peril, because God’s Word remains forever — whereas we are grass!

Father, forgive us for our human conceit and arrogance, when we believe that we can replace You with our own creations, or when we consign Your Word to the corner of insignificance.  Thank You for loving us so completely that You provided the Holy Scriptures to shine a light on our path, and thank You for preserving it through the millennia so that we can have the benefit of its presence in our lives, today.

PROSPECTING – DIGGING DEEP AND THE BIBLE

 

It seems to me that virtually all young children, especially boys, are intrigued by dinosaurs.  While these behemoths have been extinct for millennia, interest in them seems to be growing and intensifying in these days.

boy meets dino
Grandson inspecting toy dinosaur!

Years ago, our young grandson spent many hours playing with the toy dinosaur trying to figure out how it moved.  He loved that dinosaur, but it was a passing fancy.

 

One of our older grandsons has loved dinosaurs, and all things like fossilized bones, since he took his first breath.  Even as a child, his birthday cake was a dinosaur!

 

Birthday cake - dinosaur
Apparently, all dinosaurs are not extinct!

He reads about them, he knows how to identify them, he knows what they ate and where they lived, in short, he loves dinosaurs.  Now in his teens, he has said that he wants to be a paleontologist and/or archaeologist and I am fully confident that he will succeed in that venture if his interest continues.

Evans Day 011
Fossil found at Gray’s Fossil Site in Tennessee.

As a surprise for a job well done, we took him to Gray’s Fossil Site in upper East Tennessee.  The extinct animal pictured above greets you at the Museum and other fossils reveal that shovel-tusked elephants, saber toothed cats, semi-aquatic pot-bellied rhinos are just some of the animals that roamed in the area.

Evan searching for bones among rocks
Searching in the dirt and stone for treasures at Gray’s Fossil Site in Tennessee.

One of the activities that he LOVED was to dig in a tray of dirt and rocks in the hope that he would find a fossil or piece of bone from ages past.   Of course, you can’t make that kind of “find” by just gazing at the dirt and rocks.  No, you have to investigate it, handle it, look at it with some magnification to determine if you really have a “find” or you have a piece of hard dirt (also a likelihood in East Tennessee).

Evans Day 041
Inspecting small piece material found in the dirt and stones.

 

He had a marvelous time digging and investigating, looking for the fossilized treasures that might be there.

 

His devotion to dinosaurs and his steady interest and determined study of them is commendable.  And, I am sorry to say, that it put me to shame.  I’m not referring to my interest in dinos, I am referring to my reading of Scripture.

 

How do I read Scripture, the Holy Word of the Living Creator God?  There are times that I read it and really think about it: but far more often I read it as if it were a novel … picking it up here and putting it down again without thought.

 

In the Old Testament we read:

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

Ezra 7:10

 

When I read Scripture, do I “set my heart” to study God’s Word?  Do I look up words so I understand their meaning and context?  Do I ask why the Holy Spirit used that specific word when so many others might have been used?   Do I think about why this is included in the Holy Writ in the first place?  If it was important enough for the Holy Spirit to direct its inclusion in the Bible, what am I to learn from this?

 

When I read Scripture, do I consider the entire chapter as a unit?  Do I think about the chapter in the context of the book as a whole?  Do I investigate how this book relates to the overall theme of both the Old and New Testament in Scripture – Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of His people?

 

The Psalmist said:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Psalm 119:105

 

Do I consider the Word to be a light to my path when I read the Bible?  Do I look closely at how the text would apply to my life, today?  Do I look at the Scripture and focus on what it says, while waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak in that still small voice that is usually drowned out by the television, stereo or radio, and the general cacophony of our 21st Century life?

 

When I read Scripture, do I expect to hear God speak to me?  Do I expect that the Scripture passage will apply to my life?  Do I expect that the Word will touch my heart and draw me closer to Him?

 

I confess that I cannot answer these questions in the affirmative!  I am convinced, however, that if I want my life to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, this is how I must read His Word.  I must be quiet so that I can study it, focus on it, learn it, listen to it and let the Holy Spirit speak to me.

 

In the New Testament, we are told to study the Word so that we can teach others.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15.  The King James Version translates this verse as follows:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

No matter how you say it, the Christian should study the Bible, carefully read it and investigate what the words are, what the text says, and what it means in our world today.

 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Since this is true, then we are in possession of a Book that reveals the God that we serve, as well as His requirements, demands, blessings and curses.  It reveals His love and His justice, His holiness and our sinfulness.  It is a Book that we should reverence as well as read; it is our heavenly guidebook given by God for our benefit … we would be foolish to ignore it or to treat it lightly!

The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O LORD, are on high forever.

Psalm 92:6-8

 

Father, I confess that I have not read your Word with the intensity and zeal that it deserves.  I confess that I have not expected You to speak to me through your Word, and I confess that I have not followed the commands that You have spoken in your Word.  Forgive me and help me to understand and accept your Word as I read and study it, and I ask this through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

 

PERCEPTION/ILLUSION VS. REALITY

When we were in Oregon, there were so many beautiful places to take pictures, it was hardly possible to do the scenery justice through pictures.  There were the stark, seemingly dead places where volcanic eruptions had erased the vegetation, but even in the places where the trees had sustained incredible damage, there was beauty.

 

One such place was Lava Butte just outside Bend, Oregon where we came across this tree.

 

Bird in the Tree -- Oregon 2009 049 (C)
Tree outside Bend, Oregon at the Lava Butte.

 

The contrast between its barren limbs and the flourishing evergreens nearby made me think about the incredible strength of nature.  And then I saw a yellow bird on the tree’s limb.  I didn’t have any idea what kind of bird it was, but it appeared to be resting before going off to further exploits of this land.

 

When we got home, I looked at the pictures, again thanking the Lord for the beauty of His creation.  Trying to identify the yellow bird, I enlarged the picture above, and this is what I saw:

Bird in the Tree - 2 -- Oregon 2009 049 (C)
Was it a bird? No!

Apparently this “bird” is of the genus “Lady Taking a Picture”.

 

Perception/Illusion  versus Reality.

 

There are times when we think something is one way, when the reality is that it is quite another.   I perceived that a brightly colored bird was sitting on that branch, when the reality was that a lady in a bright shirt was standing beyond the tree taking a picture at the same time I was taking a picture of her.  My perception was certainly not reality, but it was harmless and funny.

 

But the difference between perception or illusion and reality is not always harmless or humorous.

 

We see people harming innocents and calling it justified because of their hatred.  We see people abusing others in the name of ambition.  We see the slaughter of babies that somehow becomes less offensive by calling it a “woman’s choice.”  This is our perception – but the reality is vastly different.

 O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?  They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.  They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage.  They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”  Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise?  He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?  He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge– the LORD–knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

Psalm 94:3-11.

 

God sees –God hears – God is fully aware of what mankind is doing.  He is sovereign and in control, even when it appears that things are out of control.  He knows the thoughts of man because He created man.  The fool is the one who dismisses God as irrelevant or of no concern.

 

There are times we feel powerless against the foes that confront us.  This too is a perception that we are led to believe – but it is not the reality for the Christian.  Elisha and his servant confronted the army of the enemy and we read the following about this encounter in the book of Second Kings where it says:

When the servant of the man of God [Elisha] rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

2 Kings 6:15-17.

 

Elisha was not worried about the forces against them.  The problem was that the servant believed the perception that they were defenseless.

 

In the book of Romans, Paul talks about perception and reality when he tells the Romans that God has revealed Himself through creation but man chooses to believe the lie Satan promotes.

 

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”   For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.   For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Romans 1:17-25.

 

  • Don’t believe the lie that if your good outweighs your bad, you will get to heaven.   In Romans 10:3-18 Paul states that “”None is righteous, no, not one”.
  • Don’t believe the lie that all you need is to get along, love everyone and do your best.
  • Don’t believe the lie that this world is all there is, so get all you can because God wants you to be wealthy and to have all that you desire.
  • Don’t believe the lie that since God is love there will be no judgment.
  • Don’t believe the lie that hell is not real and the concept of eternal damnation is ridiculous.

 

Both the Old and New Testaments describe God’s response to sin and disobedience, and it is powerful, fierce and just!   God’s wrath is upon sinful mankind … only His mercy is stopping His hand from executing judgment on sinful man this very moment!

 

While you are not righteous, and while you cannot wash your sin away, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection has paid the sinner’s debt and that freedom from sin is available through God’s grace.  Paul says:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9.

 

Perception/illusion versus Reality.  In that battle, reality wins every time and Reality has a name – the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent triune God!

 

Father, forgive me when I have believed Satan’s lies that You do not care, or that You have no plan for me,  or that You do not love me.  Enable me to see the protection that You place around me, and grant me the grace to reach outside my comfort zone so I can extend your love and compassion to others, through your Spirit and in the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 7, JOY, Part One

 

JOY – EFFERVESCENCE EVEN IN CHAOS

 PART ONE

This week we are considering Joy.  We know that everyone wants to be happy.  In our culture, happiness is talked about and searched for, but seldom is real joy experienced.

 

The internet dictionary.com defines joy as being “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.”  A picture of joy, I believe, is this one of a young boy with his grilled cheese sandwich.   Eyes closed, bread in both hands, cherishing the taste in his mouth.  He seems to be in little boy bliss!

Joy of grilled cheese sandwich (C)

In an attempt to find happiness, people try all sorts of things, way beyond grilled cheese sandwiches.  For example, Indian philosophy has given a 7 prong approach to locating happiness.

 

  • Think less, feel more
  • Frown less, smile more
  • Talk less, listen more
  • Judge less, accept more
  • Watch less, do more
  • Complain less, appreciate more
  • Fear less, love more

 

These things are good and they may help you lead a more productive happy life.  Any time that you focus on others and have your eyes off of yourself your life is likely to be happier.  But, these actions are based on our own efforts, and any happiness that is achieved is fleeting because it is based on outward circumstances.

 

This is the fundamental difference between Christians and unregenerate persons around us.  Even though we use the same word Joy, the Joy given to the Christian is separate and apart from outward circumstances of this world … it is not the power of positive thinking nor is it based on the prosperity gospel’s promise of vast monetary wealth here and now.

ORANGE - JOY

What does Scripture say?

 

Using the orange analogy that we developed previously, Biblical Joy is a segment of the fruit of the Holy Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

 

The Greek word Chara Joy – refers to a delight in God and His salvation for the sheer beauty and worth of who He is.    The world’s counterfeit of this fruit is elation that comes with blessings rather than from thoughts of the One who blesses.  Further, because the world’s joy is based on external things, there will be mood swings based on circumstances.

 

The Holy Spirit’s Joy is not dependent on external circumstances but is deep seeded and is rooted in the heart filled with love for our Lord.

 

Martin Luther said:

Joy means sweet thoughts of Christ, melodious hymns and psalms, praises and thanksgiving, with which Christians instruct, inspire, and refresh themselves.

 

Matthew Henry understands Paul’s use of the term “Joy” as part of the fruit of the Spirit as being “a constant delight in God.”

 

Unlike the writings of other faith systems, Joy is well embedded in Holy Scripture of the Bible.  Scriptural Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God because it is based on the Holy Spirit’s presence within us.  If we do not have the Holy Spirit, we cannot have Biblical Joy!

 

Note:  The Bible distinguishes scriptural Joy from pleasure – the Greek word for pleasure is the word from which we get our English word hedonism, and it is the philosophy of self-centered pleasure-seeking.  Paul referred to false teachers as “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:4)

 

The Bible warns that self-indulgent pleasure-seeking does not lead to happiness and fulfillment.

  • Ecclesiastes 2 records the sad story of one who tried to build his life on pleasure-seeking and was left empty and disillusioned.
  • 1 Timothy 5:6 says that the self-indulgent person is dead even while seeming to be alive.
  • Titus 3:3 notes that pleasure-seeking often enslaves the person in a vicious cycle of addiction.

 

In contrast, the God of Scripture knows Joy and He wants His people to know Joy.

  • Psalms 104:3 speaks of God rejoicing in His creative works.
  • Isaiah 65:18 speaks of God rejoicing over His redeemed people who will be to Him “a joy.”
  • Luke 2:10, a focal verse at Christmastime, reminds us of the perfect example of bringing joy from the Lord in the Angel’s pronouncement to the shepherds at Bethlehem.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” 

 

How does this apply to my life?

 

In John 15:9-12, Jesus told us to keep His commands and to abide in His love, further stating that He told us this so that “my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”   

 

The answer to the question “Can we have that same joy?” is a resounding YES.  We can, and do, have within us the same Joy that Jesus was speaking of.  We can confidently say this because we have His Spirit within us and He provides Joy as we listen to Him, as we read the Scripture and as we rely on Him for all things.

 

Is our joy different from the happiness that is sought so desperately by the world?  As you should be aware by now, the answer to this question is an unequivocal YES.  Our joy is different because of Who it is based on – our joy is not dependent on circumstances or things.   Our joy is based on the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and we experience it through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

In speaking of Galatians 5:22, Author Keri Wyatt Kent says:

“This verse is not a to-do list for us to work through, but a description of the transformation that occurs when God’s Spirit begins to work in us.”

 

This week, pray that the Holy Spirit would continue this transformation by enlarging your love and joy in Christ.  Ruminate about keeping the commands of our Lord so that you can abide in His love.  Then, take action and do that which the Lord commands.  I believe that you will find that your joy will be abundant as you live and serve Him through the power of His Spirit.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 5 LOVE, PART TWO

Continuing our consideration of LOVE, we are thinking about love from the Holy Spirit, therefore it is love as God loves … Agape love.  So we need to see what this love looks like, and then see if we have those characteristics in our life.

 

In Dr. R. C. Sproul’s teaching series Keeping in Step with the Spirit, CD Teaching Series; and Developing Christian Character, CD Teaching Series he identifies several characteristics of Agape love, the love that should be evident in our lives because the Holy Spirit is resident within us as Christians.

 

What does Scripture say?

  1. Agape love gives us the desire in our hearts to worship God.

 

Without the Holy Spirit’s involvement in my life, worship would be far from what I would want to do on a Sunday morning.  But the Holy Spirit changes all that.  The Christian wants to honor and worship God – why? Because God is living within her, the Spirit urges her to honor and worship God and she responds by doing so.   Jesus said:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

John 4:23-24.

 

  1. Agape love believes and trusts God’s Word.

 

Paul says:

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 

I  Thessalonians 2:13.

 

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, in John 17:17, he prays:

Sanctify them in the truth: your word is truth.”

 

Agape love reads God’s Word, loves God’s Word, believes God’s Word, and trusts God’s Word.  If God’s Word sets forth a standard that is difficult to follow, Agape love mandates that such standard should still be followed even if society cries out against it.  God’s Word is inviolate, and the Christian gives it full credit and trust.

 

  1. Agape love recognizes God’s absolute right to govern us.

 

Sovereignty – this is something we in the United States don’t really understand culturally, but it is grounded in our psyche – God put a desire for a sovereign in our very being – not for a physical king, but for HIM.

 

Indeed, in the Old Testament, God was the King of His people Israel, leading them through the wilderness and preserving them as they encountered enemies along the way.  But then we read in 1 Samuel 8:5-7 that the people came to the prophet Samuel and demanded a king  so they could “be like all the other nations around them.”  Samuel objected to this demand but he presented the request to God.

And the LORD said unto Samuel, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”  [KJV]

What a sad comment from our God — “they have rejected me”.

 

David says:

“Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

Psalm 74:12

 

In 1 Timothy 1:17, Paul says:

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

 

Of course, we also have the promise of Romans 8:28-30 that God will work in all things to our ultimate good, specifically that we will be with Him for all eternity through Christ our Lord.

 

Agape love says that God is sovereign and that He has the absolute right to govern His creation in all things, and that, Beloved, includes even you and me.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

  • With Agape love in our hearts, we recognize that we are the creation, not the Creator. The Holy Spirit is in our heart and He is enabling us to worship and honor God as God.   We desire to worship Him.  We want to come into His presence and sing His glories, hear His Word and learn from His Spirit as it is preached to us.

The emphasis on our worship is God, not us.  With Agape love, I will not be saying “I didn’t get anything out of the sermon today” because I am not the one that is to be the focus of worship.  Rather, my prayer is that my worship has given God the honor and glory that He deserves.

 

  • With Agape love, we will want to read and study His Word. You would never fold a letter from your boyfriend or girlfriend and put it in your pocket without taking it out of the envelope and reading it.  Rather, you would virtually memorize it, not out of an obligation to do so but because you want to have the words in your heart to cherish for all time.

The Bible is God’s Word to us, a love letter, if you will, given for us to read and learn of God, what His character is like, what He desires for His people, what He wants in worship.  The New Testament continues the theme that began in the Old Testament, detailing the life of Jesus Christ, the fullest revelation of God that we could possibly ask for, the One who was fully man and fully God.  The One who revealed God and His nature to the fullest extent possible.  Jesus even explicitly saying:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

  • With Agape love, we will acknowledge that God is Sovereign. He has absolute authority over us, to send us wherever He wants us to go, to have us do that which He desires.  He is not a tyrant that He should gain glee in hurting His children.  Rather, His plan for us is far better than that which we could imagine, with benefits that are eternal, not just for the here and now.

Listen to Isaiah 43:11-13 as presented in the song entitled I Am The Lord, sung by Ed Kerr on Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Song Album entitled Hope of Heaven.  Let the reality of these words sink into your mind and heart and think of them as you go about your daily activities.  Agape love – the first fruit of the Spirit.

 

 

We will look at additional characteristics of this fruit in the next post.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.

 

 

WHO IS IN CONTROL HERE?

 

I am in control of my life … right?  Are you in control of your life?  Really?

 

We get up, brush our teeth, go to work, come home, prepare meals, chauffeur the kids to and fro, do the laundry, mop the floor, make the beds, pay the bills, run to the post office for stamps, wash the toddler’s hands and face, do more laundry, exercise, go to the gym, ride the bicycle … the list is never ending. But, we are in control, right!?

Birthday cake on face (C)
Adorable toddler with birthday cake on her face!

 

Then there are the other obligations that we have on our schedule. Things like birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, worship at church, preparation for the children’s class party, choir rehearsal, women’s meetings for fellowship and prayer.

 

Thanksgiving meal new recipe (C)
Yummy acorn squash that folks would enjoy!

 

We take food to those who are suffering, participate in the Bible study and prayer group, leadership meetings, and work with outreach activities such as Habitat for Humanity, the Soup Kitchen, Second Harvest, etc.   And we still think we are in control, right?

 

Of course, we would be remiss if we ignored the incessant interruptions that the smart phone provides – email, tweets, Skype, messages, not to mention phone calls (the purpose of the telephone)! And we must not forget the magnetic call of social media such as Facebook. Hundreds of our friends want to know what we are doing, minute by minute. Could I honestly post that my status is that “I am in control of my life”?

 

Being in control of my own life is the focus of our culture … songs glamorize the concept by saying  “I did it MY way” and “I want it all and I want it all now!,”  an illustration that the focus of our world is I/me/mine!  In essence, we are the center of our universe. All else is irrelevant. Yet we still are running, we are out of time and energy, and, because we are so busy that we can’t squeeze another thing into our schedule, we believe that we are in control of our own life!

 

If we are honest, it would appear that we are slaves to the chores and obligations of family, home, society and employment! Like the little pet hamster, we are on the treadmill — running in circles with no visible exit point where we can rest, rejuvenate, relax, and refresh!

 

Ocean waves and beach (C)
Oregon beach with waves coming in, nonstop, with soothing sounds.

 

When was the last time you got off the treadmill and stopped so that you could listen to the sound of Nature? When was the last time you experienced the continual, powerful, pounding of the ocean and remembered that there is no switch to turn it off, yet the Lord could still the waves with His voice?  Mark 4:39.

Colorado Rocky Mountains
Colorado mountains, awesome in grandeur and strength.

 

When was the last time you stopped to look at the mountain and to consider the power of Him who holds the summit in His hand?

 

Beautiful butterfly
Beautiful butterfly found in Butterfly Farm in the Cayman Islands.

 

When was the last time you were still enough to inspect a butterfly, one of the magnificent beauties of God’s creation?   Creatures that are so fragile they will be blown away by the wind, yet they are strong enough to fly in migration across the ocean!

 

When was the last time you sat in a quiet room with your Bible open, reading it so you can learn more of Who God is? When was the last time you listened for the still small voice of God, speaking to you in a whisper in your soul, telling you that He loves you and wants you to focus on Him, not on the treadmill?    1 Kings 19:11-12.

 

Cross
Consider the cross, a reminder of the glorious gift provided to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

The very life we have, breath that we breathe, is a gift from God.  Certainly, those blessings are deserving of our thanks.  But even more we should be thankful for the gift of salvation, purchased at such great cost as Christ’s death on the cross, as payment for our sin.  When was the last time you said “Thank you” to Him for all His blessings that He has given you, because of His grace?

 

Who is in control here?  According to Scripture, the answer to that question is “God is in control.”  In speaking to the men of Athens, Paul says it like this:

And he [God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being.

Acts 17:25-28.

 

In the Psalms, David describes God in a much more personal way.

For you [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-15

 

God is in control and I can allow Him to take me off the treadmill so that I can do the work that He has planned for me from the foundation of the world.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

 

May I glorify God and His Son, Jesus Christ, as I experience the glorious adventure of life with my Savior holding my hand as His Spirit guides my path.

 

Father, I praise, glorify, and honor you as the Creator God, sovereign, all-powerful, and all-knowing. I thank you that you are in control, and I bow in humble gratefulness that I am yours. May I live in the fullness of life that you have provided through Jesus Christ my Savior and through the power of your Holy Spirit.

 

Why is the title of the blog “The Ruminant Scribe”?

I have been asked about why I am taking the time to blog on The Ruminant Scribe.  And, oh by the way, “don’t you know that ruminant has to do with cows?”  Another person said that they did not think the idea of cow stomachs would be a good blog title.  Well, I don’t either.  But, I do think that ruminating is something that is important to do, especially in a society that wants information spoon fed to them, that wants to know stuff on an instant basis, and that does not necessarily care about the source, as long as what is said is received quickly and sounds good.

Bible (2)
God’s roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him — the Holy Bible.

 

My blog is intended to give me, and the reader, something to think about, to ruminate about.  The definitive text for the blog is the Holy Scripture, the Bible.  I am using an English Standard Version (ESV) but other versions will be used as well for comparison and, sometimes, for ease of understanding.

As far as “Scribe” is concerned, the scribes in Jesus’ day were the lawyers.  Since I am an attorney, a/k/a lawyer, it seemed appropriate that I could call  myself “scribe” in the blog title.   After all, even lawyers can ruminate, ponder and cogitate about thoughts regarding Scripture, life and our world!

The source of the subjects can seem to be mundane, such as blueberries coloring the breakfast milk blue, no matter how many or how few you use, but I try to tie it to a Biblical point.  See the post entitled “Blueberries for Christ.”  Or, the subject might be more clearly Scriptural, but there is still something about it that you and I need to think about.  See the post entitled “Praise the Lord”.

My prayer is that you will be blessed when you stop by The Ruminant Scribe, and just maybe that you will find something that was said to be thought-provoking, inspirational, or encouraging in your Christian walk.   If so, please send a comment or click the like star.  I will respond to comments as soon as possible.

GIANT SEQUOIA TREES ILLUSTRATE PERSEVERANCE.

After going to the Maricopa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park, I have a tremendous amount of respect for these gentle giants of the forest.  Their size can only be described as gargantuan and their age makes Methuselah sound like a teenager!

But one of the characteristics I note with particular interest is what I would call “perseverance”.  Now, I know that the trees have no awareness or sense that they have persevered through difficult times.  But, the fact remains, that there is evidence on many of these old creatures of significant trial, especially by fire.

Giant Sequoia fire scar with seedlings nearby.
Giant Sequoia fire scar with seedlings nearby.

 

These are two of the Giant Sequoia Trees which show the fire scars as evidence of the trees’ perseverance through ferocious wildfires through the centuries they have lived.

Fire scar completely through the base of Giant Sequoia Tree
Fire scar completely through the base of Giant Sequoia Tree

God, in His ultimate wisdom, created these trees knowing that they would be around for a long time and that, in the natural order of things, fire would destroy some of the forest ground cover as is necessary for a healthy forest environment.  So, God gave the Giant Sequoias the ability to survive severe fire damage, this being, according to the National Park Service, “a remarkable characteristic of the Sequoia.” I spoke of this characteristic in a prior post, “Difficulties Can Produce Beautiful Fruit” posted August 19, 2015.

The focus here, is not so much the physical fact of their survival, but the concept of perseverance … or, as is applicable to Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, perseverance of the saints.

I realize that the trees can’t just pick up and move when the going gets hot.  They are “stuck” there, so to speak.  Notwithstanding this truth, consider what is visible from the trees pictured below — above the top of the fire scar there is green growth and abundant branches.  The trees are not just alive; they are healthy, surviving and flourishing.  They endure the flames and then survive and keep on prospering, right where they are.

Yosemite Sequoia Tree tops showing growth despite the fire scar.
Yosemite Sequoia Tree tops showing growth despite the fire scar.

God knows me, too.  He knows that trials will come and the heat may be intense.  He also knows that I cannot face it alone.  In His grace He has not left me alone – He has provided a way for me to survive, not through a layer of cambium but through Jesus Christ as my Savior, the Holy Spirit as my Companion, and the Body of Christ, the Church.

Canterbury Cathedral where there have been worship services for over 1400 years!
Canterbury Cathedral where there have been worship services for over 1400 years!

Whether grandiose and ancient as seen in the 1,400 year old Canterbury Cathedral, or small and rustic such as the historic Cades Cove Church in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the church building is the meeting place for the Body of Christ.

Church in Cades Cove, Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee
Church in Cades Cove, Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

Believers, themselves, are the Body of Christ when they work together for the spreading of the Gospel of Christ and in support of each other as the family of Christ and children of the Living God.

When Daniel’s three friends, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar and refused to bow down to him, they told the king that they would only worship their God.  In rage, the king threw the three men into the fiery furnace, but when king looked into the furnace, he saw four men in the fire.  Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego were retrieved from the furnace and they were not burned or singed and they did not even smell of fire.  See Daniel 6:23-27.  God walked with them in the fire, and they were unharmed because they persevered in their faith and in reliance upon God.

I have the same God who went into the fire with His children as recounted in Daniel chapter 6.  He is the Great Healer, my Companion and my Guide. He has given me His Word (the Holy Bible) and He has ordained that the Body of Christ, the visible church on earth, be available to me as a believer in Christ for support, prayer, strength, encouragement, and help in time of need.  This does not mean that struggles will not come, or even that I am guaranteed that the struggle will not be stronger than I am — but it does mean that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate me from the love of God that I have through Christ Jesus.  Read Romans 8:35-39.

God's roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him -- the Holy Bible.
God’s roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him — the Holy Bible.

In short, He has provided the way and the strength to persevere through the trial so that, at the last day, I will be able to stand before Him, clothed in the righteousness of His Son and be accepted by Him as His child.  My obligation is to joyfully take advantage of the strength He has provided when difficult times come.

James writes in his letter that we should “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4.

I don’t know about you, but I normally do not consider it “pure joy” when a trial comes my way.  No one wants hard times – but hard times do not play favorites. Jesus promised that there would be hard times for the Christian … it is not a matter of IF there is a trial; it is simply a matter of WHEN the trial will arrive.  Perseverance in our Christian walk comes as a result of enduring the testing of our faith, and the result of perseverance is maturity in Christ.

The Giant Sequoia tree reminds me that perseverance is possible.  The Lord has provided these trees with protection and healing after a fire.  He has provided me with the Comforter who is with me not only for healing after the fire has passed but the Comforter is with me even during the trial, giving strength, encouragement and, yes, comfort.   And He has provided the Body of Christ, the Church, for my support, encouragement and aid.

Thank you, Father, for sending Jesus Christ into this world as the atonement for my sin.  Thank you also for providing means of grace so that I can persevere when difficult times assail, thank you for the Holy Spirit present within and the Church present without for strength and encouragement, prayer and praise, help and aid during times of testing. Help me to be of encouragement to your children through your Spirit and the Word.  Rather than fighting the test, Father, help me to embrace it and persevere through it so that I will be mature in my faith.  Thank you for being with me, even in the furnace of testing.  I praise your name and glorify you in all things.

STRAIGHT AND NARROW

We were standing at Lava Butte Lookout on top of a cinder cone outside of Bend, Oregon.  Six thousand years earlier, a volcano caused lava formations that resulted in the cinder cone we were standing on, with its 150 foot deep crater below our feet. The landscape was beautiful, but stark and seemingly dead.  [View of the Lava Butte cinder cone crater in Bend, Oregon ]

Lava Butte Lookout - cinder cone crater, Bend Oregon
Lava Butte Lookout – cinder cone crater, Bend Oregon

As we gazed at the horizon over the edge of the crater, it was clear that there was growth and life beyond the lava rock that had spewed from the earth so long ago.  Large trees and bushes were evident and life was going on, notwithstanding the desolation of the crater itself.

But, then, we saw, coming from the base of the cinder cone and extending far into the distance, a road, dividing the forest on either side, and with no other roads visible from our viewing position.  A long straight road, as far as the eye could see.  [View from the Lava Butte Lookout, Bend, Oregon]

View of road from Lava Butte Lookout
View of road from Lava Butte Lookout

Perhaps it is because I am currently reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, that I saw the straight road with great interest as it was reminiscent of Bunyan’s description of the right road.

MR. GOOD-WILL. … Look before thee; dost thou see this narrow way? THAT is the way thou must go; it was cast up by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ, and his apostles; and it is as straight as a rule can make it. This is the way thou must go.

[Bunyon, Pilgrim’s Progress, at {66}, obtained from The Project Guttenberg, at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/131/131-h/131-h.htm]

Or, perhaps it is because of reading the Gospel’s account of Christ and his teaching to those around Him that Jesus’ words about the pathway to Heaven rang in my ears.

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 [NIV]

[Picture is of the straight road we drove as we traveled from the Columbia River Highway to Bend, Oregon.]

The road to where? Between Columbia River Highway and Bend, Oregon.
The road to where? Between Columbia River Highway and Bend, Oregon.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian asks Mr. Good-Will if the straight road has any turns or windings that would cause the traveler to lose his way.  Mr. Good-Will responds:

MR. GOOD-WILL. Yes, there are many ways butt down [border] upon this, and they are crooked and wide. But thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong, the right only being straight and narrow.

[Bunyon, supra at {67}]   We know in our own lives that there are times when there is “a fork in the road” and we have difficulty in knowing which road we should take.  [Picture was taken outside Bend, Oregon of mountains in the Cascade Range, Oregon.]

Outside Bend, Oregon facing mountains in the Cascade Range - fork in the road
Outside Bend, Oregon facing mountains in the Cascade Range – fork in the road

Peter, after describing those who follow “the corrupt desire of the flesh” says:

“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.”  2 Peter 2:15.

The Christian must stay on the narrow road, keeping his/her eyes focused on the Lord Jesus Christ while not allowing the things of this world to creep into the mind and disguise the correct road to follow.

My Beloved sold surveying instruments, GPS equipment and other place positioning items during his years of employment. Thus, wherever we go, we often will find, and photograph, survey control markers stating exactly where we are on this globe.  [Picture of a survey control marker along the path by on the Columbia River Highway, Oregon.]

Survey marker reference point in Oregon
Survey marker reference point in Oregon

Geographically we can find out where we currently are so that we can confirm that we are on the route that we intend to be traveling.  If we have taken a wrong turn, the markers will help us get back on the correct road. [Pictures are of the NOAA global positioning reference station in Mississippi]

NOAA GPS informational marker
NOAA GPS informational marker
GPS positioning possible for today's traveler
GPS positioning possible for today’s traveler

While it is important to know where we are on our planet, it is far more important to know where we are on our spiritual journey.  Traveling down the wrong road will have eternal consequences, so our path is not something to be taken lightly.

Spiritually, we are not left alone to guess if we are on the correct spiritual path.  Although the road is narrow and difficult, Jesus has given us the route and He has provided His Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.  Scripture is our road map, if you will, for our spiritual journey.  Scripture steers us directly to God and gives direction as to how we are to live in Him.  If we need a course correction, we can learn about it by reading the Word of God and praying for guidance and understanding.

God's roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him -- the Holy Bible.
God’s roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him — the Holy Bible.

Praise the Lord that we are not alone in our spiritual pilgrimage.  The Lord’s Spirit is with us, He has given us other Christians who can encourage and strengthen our understanding and resolve, He has given us His Word for instruction and reproof, and He has given us His Body, the Church, for teaching and growth as disciples of our Lord.

Father, thanks be to You for providing us salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ and for giving us the Holy Spirit as our constant companion and friend.  I pray that You would show me the road to take, that you would make the way clear and that you would give me perseverance and strength to travel the journey you have laid out for me.  In all things, Father, may I give all glory to You and my Savior, Jesus Christ.