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Archive for December, 2014

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

As we approach the end of the current year and prepare for the new year, take a moment and think about somewhere you visited in the past or some experience you had that left an indelible, permanent memory in your mind. For me, those memories include when I got married to my wife, the birth of both of my sons, and the passing of my long-lived grandmother. As far as places visited, they would include: my first Sugar Bowl game to the New Orleans Superdome, my first visit to Disneyworld, my only trip to New York City as a teenager, seeing the different cities of Europe on a band tour, and seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Now expand that list in your mind and see if you remember every sensory trace of one of those moments. I remember being in Jordan-Hare Stadium as a member of the Auburn University Marching Band and being on the field for pregame of my first college game: AU hosting Texas and seeing all those screaming fans (mind you, I went to a small high school and was from a small town…the combined populations of both filling a couple of sections). I remember yelling to my fellow band-mate not 3 feet in front of me at a night game versus Florida, with the decibel meter roaring through the roof (even 3 feet away on the field, he couldn’t hear me!). The smells of the ocean of beach trips as a child, and the feel of salt water. In each of those and many more memories, there is some sense of wonderment, some aspect of “is this really happening?”

I purposely left off one memory just to emphasize it here: the day I accepted Jesus in my heart as Lord and Savior. Truly, this was a life-changing moment for me. In the verse above John is writing down all the things shown to him in the vision. Backing up to verse 10 (NIV translation), he hears “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them” praising God. A football stadium full of people is NOTHING compared to all creation praising Him! This is what we’ll be doing when we get to Heaven: praising God and being in His presence physically and spiritually for eternity. Now, that will be a memory to fill the senses!

This concludes the 4-1-1 study; I hope you have been blessed in some way through the study of these verses. After a short hiatus, we’ll resume in January 2015 by going through the book of Acts.

God bless you in the new year!

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1 John 4:11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Does the verse above sound familiar? Try reading John 3:16.

At this blessed time of year, as Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in human form on earth, take some time and tell your family that you love them, contact an old friend and tell them you’ve been thinking about them, and basically just love one another. God loved us so much, He gave us the present of God the Son, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas.

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1 Peter 4:11: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

As we were finishing our next-to-last Christmas cantata practice tonight at church, the young lady who is in charge of the drama portions (she teaches drama at the high school) reminded us to be careful not to claim credit for ourselves if all goes well in practice…it’s better if there are things to work on, because we then turn that over to God in prayer to help us come the performance time.

She was right. We tend to forget to thank God for all He does for us. When we speak in His name, or do works in His name, we should rely on the God-given gifts He has bestowed upon us. It is God who should get the glory, not us. In our Carpenters for Christ mission trips, we see His mighty hand throughout the building process. It’s when we look back at the end of the trip, and see what God got done through us, that we are grateful to be tools in His hands. To claim the glory ourselves selfishly and sinfully results in the Tower of Babel syndrome. Look up that story in the Old Testament and refresh your memory with how that turned out!

Something to think about.

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James 4:11: “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”

I remember seeing the movie On Golden Pond with my best friend back in 1981. It was the first screen pairing of legendary Hollywood actors Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn (in fact, it was Fonda’s last film). As we watched the beginning of the movie, where the two are out in a boat that almost gets swamped by a passing speedboat, I remember the shock we felt to see these legendary actors using profanity and “flipping the bird” at the jerk in the boat. My immediate thought was that actors of such stature don’t have to stoop to such vulgarity, even if it was in the script. It just didn’t seem like something I was used to seeing them do, like it was totally out of character of who they were.

James here is warning about Christians doing something that should be out of character for a Christian: slanderous talk. While it is something common to those in the world, it should be “out of character” for Christians to engage in that. Though saved, we are still liable to fail and to sin. We should strive to leave the judging to the Judge, to the Lawgiver. It’s hard, because as human beings we have opinions and make impressions about people. But we need to remember to live for Christ and to die to self…thus we’ll be more prone to look at the world the way Jesus does…with compassion and love.

Something to think about.

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Hebrews 4:11: “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”

A good night’s sleep. As you get older, it becomes a lot easier to appreciate a good night’s sleep. Seems like when we were younger, you could fall asleep easily…almost on anything. I remember when I was in college, I fell asleep briefly at a table in a restaurant with my head leaning on my cupped hand, waking to see my friends smiling and chuckling at how tired I was at the time.

Sometimes it’s hard to get to sleep due to physical problems: you can be so physically tired that you ache and find it hard to fall asleep. You might be sick and have difficulty going to sleep because of a stuffed-up head or sore throat. Sometimes it’s other ailments that can interfere, like a bad back.

Sometimes, though, we take our worries and concerns to bed with us. These can really interfere with sleeping, with getting rest. We sleep fitfully.

Paul here was commenting on how God wants us to “enter that rest”: ultimately, our heavenly rest, as believers in Christ. While here on earth, we rest in the grace of Christ Jesus. It’s in Him that we find the solace, the peace, and the rest our bodies need. We need to live our waking lives obedient in His service and to keep from sinful behavior that keeps us from that rest He has provided. When the work is done, He wants us to rest in Him…and to enjoy that rest as well.

Something to think about.

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2 Timothy 4:11 “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.”

Sometime after The Incredible Hulk TV series ended, NBC showed a few made-for-TV movies about the characters. The first one was The Incredible Hulk Returns; in this plot, David Banner and his hulking alter-ego are re-introduced to a former college student David encountered named Don Blake. Blake had sought out Banner to try and help him deal with a unique situation: on a northern archaeological expedition, Blake had discovered a Viking war hammer and somehow became “linked” with a Viking warrior-king named Thor. (NOTE: this version of Thor and Don Blake differs somewhat from the comic book version.)

Discovering the hammer within Thor’s crypt, Blake’s interaction with it brought Thor back to our world; the warrior had been punished by Odin for the sin of arrogance, and had to perform a series of heroic deeds to gain entrance to Valhalla (the Viking afterlife). Odin linked the two and put Blake in charge whenever Thor was called back to our world. The following conversation occurs after David encourages Blake to try and to talk with Thor to get some answers. Thor is describing the “limbo” he waits in while he’s not on Earth.

“Do you know what it’s like to be without flesh, Blake? Without flesh that you can feel…without blood pumping through your limbs. With no heart and no chest to hold it?. And still, at the same time…to be awake. Not sleeping, not dead. Not anything. A place of mist and smoke. Darkness…alone…as if in some terrible dream.

And then…then, Blake…to hear the call…like a war horn in battle. And then to awaken as you were! When men and women ate life with shining teeth!

None of them are left now. but I am what I always will be.”

Thor’s melancholy countenance brightens when he mentions hearing the call to action, the call to life. When I read the above verse, I wonder how Mark felt when he received Paul’s request that Paul wanted him to come to him, “for he is useful to me for ministry.” To hear that call to action. I know from my own experiences that it is one of most fulfilling, satisfying feelings ever, when you are used by God for ministry. To know that you have followed His instruction and been a part of His work here on Earth. You just feel so good, it can be hard to express it in words, the joy of serving the Lord.

So, for your information…do you hear God’s call today? It’s time to follow His direction and be used by Him for His glory.

Something to think about.

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