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Archive for October, 2010

Because I had no internet, I got a little behind on my reading and am catching up today.  This was in yesterday’s reading, and it always makes me think of Karen. She is the one who first quoted to me, “I will set no evil before my eyes … ”  when we were talking about R-rated movies, music, halloween costumes, etc.

I think of that often, now. Shows like Breaking Bad or Dexter are critically acclaimed … but if you stop to really think about them, aren’t they a case of “calling evil good?”  We ALL do that in a degree; our hearts are deceitful and we convince ourselves that the wrong things we do are for a good cause, or are harmless, or can be seen in a positive light.  The character in Breaking Bad is dying of cancer; he needs to provide for his family, right? So what if he is cooking poison … drug users are making their own choice. He’s the hero of the show … and in Dexter, he’s only serial killing the bad guys, right?

Sigh. If only I could blame these shows for rationalizing evil and calling it good … but I do the same.

I can honestly say that my spirit is better, higher, healthier, and more joy-filled since Karen has told me that and I’ve tried to guard what I see and hear more.  Especially as far as music … Christian music may not be as exciting, really, as the jazz and blues and pop music I used to listen to – those can still get me fired up – but it surely does lift and calm my spirit. And in this world, that is no small gift.

Psalm 101
Of David. A psalm.
1 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.

2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house
with blameless heart.

3 I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me.

4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with evil.

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Today’s Readings
LAMENTATIONS 3:1-66 | HEBREWS 1:1-14 | PSALM 102:1-28 | PROVERBS 26:21-22

I think this passage is probably the “one” in the entire Bible that speaks to me the most, has upheld me the most, has encouraged and comforted and guided me the most.  I’ve gone to it again and again, and have shared it over and over with others who are suffering.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

I find this passage intriguing …

Hebrews 1
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

 

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What it’s all about

There is something I have finally come to understand and to really believe.

It isn’t about our circumstances, what is going on “in the world” or even in our immediate personal lives; all of that can be changed in an instant for better or for worse, and neither is a reflection of His love for us, really. His most beloved suffer greatly at times.

Blessings and trials both, always come back to the fact that in the end, it is really only about God and knowing that God is all.

 

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Today’s Readings
JEREMIAH 39:1-41:18 | 2 TIMOTHY 1:1-18 | PSALM 90:1-91:16 | PROVERBS 26:1-2

This is such a beautiful, beautiful psalm.  This NIV version isn’t my favorite, but still …

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say  of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

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This morning I was thinking of the arguments for universal salvation. I was thinking of how they “sound” good to the ears; of how people who argue for it are able to appeal on an emotional level using reasoning that is certainly attractive.

But the arguments, boiled down, are based on very little scripture. And scriptures that oppose with their belief are brushed aside with an argument that certain words were “not properly translated.”  They have developed a very intricate (and baffling) translation for “eternal, everlasting” that means “eternal” for God … but not for punishment.

I’m not saying all of this to judge those who believe in US unkindly; indeed, many of whom I’ve met and talked with are very kind, sincere, tender-hearted. I know they are seeking just as I am seeking. I can only speak for what the LORD has shown me personally, and today’s readings were alllllllllllllll about US … putting it in a nutshell for me.

Today’s Readings
JEREMIAH 22:1-23:20 | 2 THESS 1:1-12 | PSALM 83:1-18 | PROVERBS 25:11-14

This first reading from Jeremiah 22, in a nutshell, tells me how we are to conduct ourselves …

3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’ ”

Is this not another “nutshell” of sorts?  It is not hard to see the difference between a “dead” king and an “exiled” king and how it relates to resurrection and salvation.

10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss;
rather, weep bitterly for him who is exiled,
because he will never return
nor see his native land again.

I am very sorry to admit that Jeremiah 23 reminds me much of some (not all) who teach US.

6 This is what the LORD Almighty says:
“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.

17 They keep saying to those who despise me,
‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’

This passage more than any other tells me that universal salvation is not Truth.  First from today’s reading in one version, then from my NAB:

2 Thes 1
9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.

2Th 1:8  in blazing fire, inflicting punishment on those who do not acknowledge God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2Th 1:9  These will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power

How could those be “incorrectly translated?  “Everlasting/eternal” comes from:

G166
αἰώνιος
aiōnios
ahee-o’-nee-os
From G165; perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well): – eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).

“Destruction/punishment” comes from:

G3639
ὄλεθρος
olethros
ol’-eth-ros
From ὄλλυμι ollumi a primary word (to destroy; a prolonged form); ruin, that is, death, punishment: – destruction.

Dear Father in heaven, I don’t always understand your ways; but I trust them … I trust you. I ask you to protect us all in our mind, body and spirit. Lead us to Truth; show it to us plainly so we understand; open our hearts and our minds and our eyes and our ears to what YOU want to show us and what You have for us to learn. Help us to see clearly and to believe.

In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

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This passage holds a very special place in my heart.  In July 2002 I was sitting on my front porch in Zebulon, NC with a cup of coffee, reading the Bible and journaling when I read this passage:

1Th 5:16  Rejoice always.
1Th 5:17  Pray without ceasing.
1Th 5:18  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

I’m sure my journaling comments that day were fairly benign – we learn from our trials as much as from our blessings … that sort of thing. 

As soon as I closed my Bible the phone rang. It was my mom, calling to tell me that dad was in Omaha in ICU with a tear in his artery; she said it didn’t look good and whether or not I came home was up to me … but I probably wouldn’t make it in time to see him alive.

I did arrive in time to see him again. We were blessed with an entire day together, my mom and dad, brothers and sister.  Dad was awake and we talked, laughed, planned how the doctors would treat his aortic anuryism. 

But that evening when everyone else left for dinner, I was alone with him when he seizured or stroked, and died. I was able to pray to God and release my dad to Him, trusting in His ocean of mercy and love.

And I’ve remembered that passage ever since, PONdered over it, and I’ve really, deeply learned it.

I know, now, how Paul could give thanks for his trials. It isn’t so much what we learn, but for me it’s simply that when we turn to God, He draws us ever-closer to Himself.  It is how He accomplishes His work in us, making us holy.

1Th 5:21  Test everything; retain what is good.
1Th 5:22  Refrain from every kind of evil.
1Th 5:23  May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Th 5:24  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.

Thank you, LORD, for protecting me; for helping me to turn my face to you and not my back; for your timing and for making things clear enough that even I can “get it.”

And thank you for my dad, and his life. He was an extraordinary man, very kind and gentle and I loved him dearly.

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Today’s Readings
JEREMIAH 19:1-21:14 | 1 THESSALONIANS 5:4-28 | PSALM 82:1-8 | PROVERBS 25:9-10

I cannot even imagine the terror of hearing the words in verse 3: “I am going to bring such evil upon this place that all who hear of it will feel their ears tingle.”

Jer 19:3  Listen to the word of the LORD, kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring such evil upon this place that all who hear of it will feel their ears tingle.
Jer 19:4  This is because they have forsaken me and alienated this place by burning in it incense to strange gods which neither they nor their fathers knew; and the kings of Judah have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.
Jer 19:5  They have built high places for Baal to immolate their sons in fire as holocausts to Baal: such a thing as I neither commanded nor spoke of, nor did it ever enter my mind.

It sure makes me wonder why the world today has escaped the same punishment … we are every bit as wicked, going about our daily work of building wealth for “self” and ignoring the poor; aborting our unborn children and ripping them limb-from-limb from their mother’s womb; glorifying sexual immorality. Lord have mercy on us all.

I am definitely feeling led to “do.”  I’m not certain yet whether it is with Birthright, reaching out to mothers who feel a lone and afraid and need help; or maybe with Food at First helping to organize all of those meals for all of those people. They are both such awesome and worthwhile works.

I am praying for guidance and I think the “first step” is closer than I realized.  God willing, things will fall into place soon …

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