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Verses 14-15: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

When I was in college, I was in the drama team of our Baptist Student Union (called the Zoo Troupe). Once we acted out a skit called “The Owl Who Was God”. (I found out just this week that the skit must’ve been based on the fable in James Thurber’s book Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated (New York, 1940), pp. 35-36. I reread the story at the following link: https://www.k-state.edu/english/baker/english320/Thurber-The_Owl_Who_Was_God.htm). The story (condensed here) is that the other animals asked the owl to be their leader because he could see in the dark and answer any question (although his answers to most questions were “Who”, “Two”, “To wit”, and “To Woo”…mostly owl-speak!). After chasing away a few animals who wanted to ask “Can he see in the daytime?”, the other animals asked the owl to be their leader. Appearing at high noon, walking slowly with wide eyes (since he couldn’t see in the daytime), the other animals, impressed by his seeming stature, began to cry “He’s God!” They began to follow him, even when he started walking down a highway. They were still crying “He’s God”…when most of them, including the owl, were killed by a truck which ran into them. The moral was: You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.

Paul here is contrasting the natural man, using natural wisdom, with the spiritual man, who uses the wisdom given through the Holy Spirit. The spiritual man can discern and judge many things through the wisdom God gives; the natural man cannot discern those same things, because natural wisdom cannot divine the deep things of God. It would be like above, when the animals thought the owl was wise, when it reality, he was limited…just like the natural man is limited.

So for wisdom that lasts, do you want the natural sands to build your house on? Or do want your foundation to be the wisdom of the Rock?

Something to think about.

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John 8: 56-58: “”Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.””

In Exodus 3:13-15, Moses is at the burning bush, receiving his “marching orders” from God. When Moses asked God what to say when he tells the children of Israel that the God of your fathers has sent me to you (knowing that they would ask what His name was), God said “I AM WHO I AM.” In verse 14, the Bible states: “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.”

I recall reading the information at the following website, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/i-am-who-i-am. John Piper shared the following insight:
The Most Important Name for God in the Old Testament
The most common and the most important name for God in the Old Testament is a name that in our English versions never even gets translated. Whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters, you know that this name is behind it. In Hebrew, the name had four letters — YHWH — and may have been pronounced something like Yahweh. The Jews came to regard this word with such reverence that they would never take it upon their lips, lest they inadvertently take the name in vain. So whenever they came to this name in their reading, they pronounced the word adonai which means my lord. The English versions have basically followed the same pattern. They translate the proper name Yahweh with the word LORD in all caps.”

Wow. Powerful. Contrast that with today’s society, where it seems like a lot of folks take God’s name flippantly, irreverently, and in vain. Sad.

So, when Jesus makes this statement to the Jews (who couldn’t fathom how Jesus knew Abraham), and says, “before Abraham was, I AM”, there is NO doubt as to what He is telling them…He is God.

As I mentioned at the outset, I was only going to be sharing insights God showed me on some of His names. This is the last one for this study. However, when you sum it all up, Jesus is simply I AM. He is God! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He simply…IS.

The next study we’ll be doing will be revisiting a favorite book of mine that we have walked through before. Be in prayer for me, and check back in a while, as we began a return visit to 1 and 2 Corinthians.

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Mark 10:17-18: “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.””

All of us have been taught throughout our lives, whether we wish to admit it or not, whether we were willing participants or not. Some of the people who taught me, I remember more fondly than others. Some were good teachers. Experience itself can be a hard teacher. But there are some good teachers we can all recall. Two instances I remember: one was my grandmother, who taught me in Sunday School when I was very young. She and my mother made sure I knew about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Two, was my first grade teacher; as a little boy, I had a crush on her! 🙂 She was so tall and pretty. She loved us kids in her class a lot. Now, she could be tough when she had to be, but I fondly remember learning the alphabet and math under her guidance. (For the record, when I saw her years later, I discovered that she wasn’t as tall as I thought…but then again, I was a short first-grader!) I still love her; she was a second mama figure to us!

Good teachers are those who care about us, and want us to learn the right things. The rich young ruler, when he greeted Jesus, addressed Him as “Good Teacher” due to His reputation as a prophet and teacher. I find Jesus’s response wonderfully ironic when He answered him and said, “why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” And, of course, Jesus is God!

The point is, Jesus does care about us, He loves us, and He wants to teach us. What we have to do is learn (and I do mean LEARN) to listen and to obey Him, when He teaches us.

Class is in session.

Something to think about!

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Isaiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.””
Ephesians 2:20 – “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,”

The following dialogue comes from the new Super Secret Secret Squirrel cartoon, which Hanna-Barbera aired as part of the show 2 Stupid Dogs.

Secret Squirrel was locked up in a cell in a straitjacket. A microscopic menace named Quark had made it look like he was crazy so that he would be locked up. Quark was destroying massive buildings, to which Secret asked him: “how could a subatomic speck like you destroy all those structures?”

Quark: “oh, it’s so simple; I just pulled out the bottom atom!” (which he demonstrates by removing the bottom atom of the stool Secret had sat upon, causing it to crumble.)

After bragging about his plan to wipe out North America for his entertainment career, he escapes. Suddenly the wall falls down; there stands Secret’s faithful sidekick, Morocco Mole!

Secret: “Morocco!”
Morocco: “Secret! I knew you weren’t crazy. You’re only crazy about catching criminals!”
Secret: “Thanks, Morocco. By the way, how did you knock down that huge wall?”
Morocco: “Simple; I just pulled out the bottom brick! heh.” (showing Secret the bottom brick as he unties him.)

Now what that humorous cartoon points out is a very simple construction fact: most all structures have a dependent component that the rest of the building is fabricated upon. It’s known as the cornerstone in most buildings. Wikipedia defines a cornerstone as “The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornerstone)

My father, a retired brick mason, always started laying out a building by constructing a corner to build the intersecting walls off of; without that steady corner, the walls wouldn’t be sound enough.

What is Jesus without the church? Well, He is still the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, God; that doesn’t change. What is the church without Jesus? That’s the point in a nutshell. Without Jesus, the church would be like other religions that eventually cave in and collapse. It would be a shell, a sham, a house of cards that would fold under pressure.

Christian, remember today that Jesus is the Cornerstone of your faith; faith built upon such a Rock can stand up to anything.

Something to think about.

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Verses 23-24: “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'”

Whenever I do not drive myself on Carpenters for Christ mission trips, most of the other times I travel with my father in his truck. Since he is driving, I’ll chart our progress on a map to see how close we are to state lines and such (in most cases to take some snapshots). There have been times he has asked me where we are on the map and how close we are to certain landmarks or towns. He has even asked before how many miles we are to a certain area (good thing I took land navigation in high school!) I thought of this when reading all the detail that Luke put into the account of Paul travelling to Rome aboard the ship and his trials during the storm. Most of the account is filled with this navigational detail, but there were three things that drew my attention while reading this account.

In verse 3, Luke writes that Julius (the centurion in charge of the prisoners) treated Paul kindly. I’m reminded that God “clears the way” when we need His help, and sometimes that help comes in unexpected people that He sends our way.

The second item is in verses 23-24: that God reminded Paul that he was to make it to Rome alive to be brought before Caesar. Worry is one of the devil’s favorite weapons…with that weapon, he can rob us of the energy and focus that we need in ministering for God. Paul was probably emboldened and strengthened to be reminded of this by God’s angel. The weight of concern about their survival was lifted from him with this reminder, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

The third item is in verse 36; Paul encouraged the men, who hadn’t eaten anything in the last 14 days, to take nourishment for their survival. The angel had told Paul that they would survive, but the ship would be run aground, so they would need strength to make it shore (go without food for 2 weeks, and see how strong you are!) This verse is a reminder that God gave us physical bodies that we need to take care of in order to better serve Him. That means making sure we take the nourishment we need to keep our bodies running as they should.

Sounds like common sense, right? But as I’m often reminded in this old world, common sense ain’t as common as it used to be. It’s better to let God do the driving and we “ride shotgun” with Him!

Something to think about.

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Verse 8: “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”

Way back when DC Comics had published the storyline “The Death of Superman”, in which Superman seemingly perished defending Metropolis from the alien monster known as Doomsday, the eventual return of Superman to life was depicted in the storyline “Reign of the Supermen”. As an epilogue to that story, Superman and Lois Lane were shown by the supernatural detective, Dr. Occult, just how Superman “came back from the dead”. Long story short, it was a series of factors and events that only occurred in a once-in-a-lifetime configuration; Superman was as close to death as he could be (for a Kryptonian). This fact was lost on a gathering of people who began to worship Superman, as he had “come back from the dead” in their eyes. Kal-El was horrified to see that these people flocked to him like he was a god, and he had to vocally reprimand them that, telling them that he was mortal (although he has “power and abilities far beyond mortal men”, to quote the old Adventures of Superman TV show). He could no more raise people from the dead or cure the sick supernaturally than they could. Thankfully, his words snapped them back to reality.

Paul begins his defense before King Agrippa by harkening back to his defense before the Sanhedrin: that he believes in the resurrection of the dead. He evens parlays it into the rhetorical question he puts before Agrippa: “Why should it be though incredible by you that God raises the dead?” If God is truly all-powerful, omniscient, and omnipresent, then why wouldn’t He be able to raise the dead? Paul is laying the foundational basis for his later arguments regarding Jesus.

I am reminded of the times when we have to be reminded of God’s power. Take Matthew 8: 23-27 and Matthew 14: 22-33. Both times, when out on the water, Jesus performs miracles over the power of the storm and of the sea in the face of his disciples’ fears. He then reminds them, “why did you doubt, o ye of little faith”. The disciples’ replies that marvel at His power are perfectly summed up in Matthew 14:33: “Truly You are the Son of God”.

Why should we think it incredible that God can’t do the impossible? He’s God!

More to come.

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Verse 27: “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

Some time back, I recall reading an interesting tidbit of an article in Uncle John’s Biggest Ever Bathroom Reader, on page 402 of the “Odd Elvis Quiz” regarding Elvis Presley. It seems that Elvis was once approached about performing at a party at the White House hosted by President Richard Nixon. It is considered quite an honor to perform at the White House. However, when Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, heard that Elvis wouldn’t be paid for performing (that is the caveat; performers enjoy the honor and prestige, but no monetary pay), he reportedly growled, “Elvis doesn’t play for free.” Thus the deal fell through, and Elvis was never invited back. Thus Elvis missed his chance of performing for the President of the United States.

Some time back, I mentioned how Paul, in his captivity, would have extraordinary opportunities to share the Gospel with individuals he might not otherwise have had the chance to (God works in mysterious ways). Already he had spoken with 2 governors, and now he had the chance to address King Agrippa, who came to visit Governor Festus. Festus had to send some official charge of Paul’s offense when he sent him to Rome, but was having trouble expressing just what the charge was. Part of the ceremony of hosting King Agrippa was for Festus to have Paul lay his case out before the king as well. Agrippa expressed that he would like to hear the case.

Opportunity knocks through the divine Hand of God on the door. And in this case, Paul wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass without preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ! Today, as you go about your way through life, Christian, pray that God would show you those “open doors” that He wants you to knock upon.

Something to think about.

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