Precious and Magnificent Promises

2 Peter 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

If you read yesterday’s post of Great Expectations, you caught a glimpse of what God expects from us.  He doesn’t expect for us to succeed in our efforts to please Him because He knows that the old nature cannot please God.(Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.)  It is God that enables us to live holy (separated) lives, but just to be able to do the right thing still comes short of God plan for our lives.  It is one thing to know what is right.  It is still another to do what is right.  It is still another to have your nature altered so that you do what is right naturally.  If it were possible to do what is right all the time, it would still leave you unprepared for eternity.

Doing what is right is great and I do not want to minimize it.  Being right is even better because it is not performance oriented.  When you nature is changed, doing what is right is what you do naturally and takes no effort at all because your sin nature is being put to death daily and you find less and less in common with it.  So how does this transformation take place?

Our scripture gives us the initial clue to how this takes place.  God gives us exceeding great and precious promises to use in this process of transformation.  It is by our standing on these promises and rejecting the old nature that we begin to take on the divine nature.  For example, after I accepted the Lord as my Savior, I noticed that I couldn’t hold the same views that I previously held.  I began to understand things in a different light and my attitude toward others began to change.

Here is a partial list of just some of the promises to get you started in claiming them for your own.

  1. Eternal Life
  2. Nothing shall be impossible with God
  3. God will NEVER leave you or forsake you
  4. Nothing shall ever separate you from the Love of God
  5. God Loves you
  6. God is for you
  7. All things work together for good, to them that are the called
  8. All the treasuries of God are available to you
  9. Forgiveness
  10. Grace
  11. Mercy
  12. Spiritual Gifts
  13. Love (agape)

God would have us to take on His characteristics (likeness and image and dominion) to enable us to interact with Him through out eternity.  We become partakers of His divine nature as we make these promises our own life.

 

Great Expectations

2Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Have you come to the point in your Christian walk that you have discovered that you just can’t reach that point where you don’t measure up to your own expectations, let alone the expectations of God?  Surprisingly enough, your expectations are probably higher than those of God.  I know this sounds wrong but lets examine it for a moment.

By now, you have read enough scripture to know that God’s standard is perfection.  The Bible says, be ye holy as I am holy.  Like you, I tried to be holy.  Time and again I said, this time I won’t be distracted or this time I will stay focused, etc.  Each time I failed and then felt guilty (which I was) and the disappointment in myself grew.  It was so frustrating.  I remembered other times that it seemed like heaven came down an nothing could move me from my love for Jesus.  I had do many questions.  What was the difference?  What was wrong with me?  Why did I fail so miserably?  . . .

The underlying problem wasn’t in my heart, my love for God was real.  I didn’t misunderstand God’s standard of perfection, either.  He never compromised His standard.  So what was the problem.  My dad used to say, You can’t fix it until you know what is broke. (See earlier post on Broken Rules)  The problem was in my perception of how to achieve that level of living.  I was trying to be holy when that is impossible and God was just letting me know that He has a better way.  He will enable me to be Holy.  What I can never achieve, He will empower me to become by bring us closer and closer to Him and learning His ways and what He is like.  This divine power is given as a gift and it enables us in every way to live the life of godliness.

I wasn’t trying to hard, I was trying to do it on my own without Him, to please Him.  The truth is that He is already pleased with me just as I am.  He doesn’t expect me to do it without His power, in fact He will block any and all efforts for me to move in that direction.  He will do the changing if He so desires.  Remember, we are His workmanship.  We don’t need to please Him, just obey Him.

Harvest Time

I know that it is different in other parts of the world but here is Texas it is already harvest time.  The temperature is in the 90’s and will get hotter.  About a week ago I picked the first picking of green beans.  My wife, Darla, cooked them in butter with a little garlic and they were delicious.  Yesterday I picked the first picking of peas and we will eat them this evening.  I also picked a few turnips, which I like to eat raw.  I also noticed that the tomatoes are setting on and I even found three that were the size of golf balls.  Not bad from my small garden in a subdivision.

I hope that you are drooling by now.  The farmer plants with the view of a harvest.  All of the work in preparing the ground, sowing, weeding, pruning, etc. is just part of the investment as you look forward to the harvest.  So it is with the Lord.  He also is looking forward to the harvest . . . of souls.

Revelation 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

There is coming a day when He, too will harvest His garden (the earth) and there will be a time of celebration for those who allowed Him to change them from creatures of sin into the children of God by surrendering their sin and learned to walk by FAITH in Him.

We go through this world only once and we make the choice as to what we become.  Every day of our lives we make that choice over and over.  Either we choose righteousness or we choose to reject what is right and become even more self focused.

You have been invited to join the Lord at the marriage supper of the Lamb but you must come dressed in your robe of righteousness.  It will be a time of rejoicing and a time of fulfillment.  All the investment of sacrifice and suffering will be worth it all.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Join the Prayer Team

I am writing to those of you who follow my blog or even drop in on occasion.  I am asking for your help in expanding my readership.  If you are willing to help me in this effort there are a few things that you can do.

  1. Pray for me and this ministry.  I am in the planning stage of making a mission trip to China this fall.  As you may know, China has stiffened their laws concerning religious activity and there is great danger in even going there.  My plan is not to go on a big religious campaign but only to obey the Lord.
  2. Enlist others who will join you in prayer for this journey and follow my blog.
  3. Make comments on the articles, both good and bad.  Healthy criticism is an act of love and I really do want to know how to be a blessing.
  4.  Let me know what your interest are.  If I am not hitting on your subject of interest, let me know and I will do my best to include it.
  5. Ask me questions concerning the Bible that you need help with.  This website is for the purpose of assisting you on your journey and to share with you what I have gleaned along the way, on my journey through these troubled times.
  6. Share with me things that may help others that you have collected, such as a short story, a poem, an insight, etc.

Thank you in advance for all you do to further the kingdom of God and to be a blessing to others

Brother Vernon

What Is Your Handicap?

I love the commercial where children from St. Jude hospital, who have varying disabilities refuse to be called handicapped.  Though they recognize that they are limited in some ways, they also believe that they are blessed in other ways.  They refuse to allow their limitation to make them a lesser person.

One of my grandchildren was a born premature and along with that came the disease, cerebral palsy.  This disease left her with major problems with her legs and has had to have surgery to give her more mobility.  Yesterday I was talking with her and she just made my heart leap.  She said that last year when we were here and she became a Christian, she decided to not let her disability make her a handicap but she had decided to turn it into an asset.

This attitude is the key to living a rich and full life.  It is the product of Christ working from within you to give you victory over your circumstances.  Everyone has limitations and circumstantial problems of one type or another.  I have never met a woman who felt she had no flaws nor a person who felt they had enough wealth not a star who was secure in their fame.  All of these things are temporary.  Age will steal a person’s beauty, the spotlight is only for a moment, and wealth is limited and will be gone at death.  What a person becomes in their victories are what make them more than what they were.  It is in the struggles that they are stretched into  greater capacities.

One of the greatest examples of this transformation process is the Apostle Paul who started out persecuting the church and was the leader at the stoning of Stephen.  After his conversion on the road to Damascus, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles and wrote 9 books of the New Testament.  At one point in his ministry, he was given “a thorn in the flesh” and asked the Lord three times for it to be removed.  The Lord refused to remove it and stated “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

1John 5:4 For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith.  Note: the eth ending on the word overcome.  It means that it is a contentious action and not a one time event.   Also, note that the faith referenced is faith in Jesus as Lord of life.  When we entrust ourselves to Him and follow in faithful obedience; then He uses His power to enable us to overcome whatever we face.  We can take life head on without fear and live it as it was intended.  Our struggles become the tools that God uses to deliver us out of this sin filled world.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Matthew 21:15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children that were crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were moved with indignation, 16 and said unto him, Hearest thou what these are saying? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?

It is a wonderful time when you spend time with family.  There are so many things to share and talk about and there are new experiences that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.  One such incident happened yesterday.  We have a great granddaughter who is just 4 years old and because we live a long ways apart, she hasn’t yet really gotten to know us.  To break the ice with her, I introduced her to finger man. He is simply two fingers imitating a man walking.  She was immediately intrigued with finger man and began to do the finger man walk toward me.  I reacted as though he was going to get me and the ice was broken.  From then on she kept repeatedly chased me with finger man until my finger man walked toward her finger man and asked if she would like to be friends.  She immediately said yes and from then on, her finger man wanted to play with my finger man.

This was great to get to know each other and she continued to watch us and engage us in her world.  Then as we gathered around the table to pray before we ate, she announced quite loudly that she wanted to lead the prayer.  We all agreed she could but then she decided that I should lead the prayer so I asked her if she would be my prayer partner while I led in prayer and she agreed.  Then as I led in prayer she held my hand tightly and bowed her head while I prayed.

That evening as we were preparing to eat and were proceeding to get our food, she gave us notice that we had not prayed yet.  She then took my hand and asked me to lead the prayer and as my prayer partner she bowed her head so that the prayer could begin.  My heart was filled to overflowing as I witnessed, once again, the fulfillment of the Scriptures.  Out of the mouth of babes. . .

Update – 5/7/18

I am currently on vacation in Colorado and just attended our family reunion.  This year it also included my sister Charlene and her husband Bernard’s  50th wedding anniversary.  This is an event worth celebrating as not too many actually make it together that long.  There are a lot of major events during that time.  Some are derailed by the events of life and refuse to continue on together.  Some face tragedy and one of the mates are lost.  Some may survive physically but loose there capacity to continue their marriage because of mental limitations.  On and on the reasons go but when one is actually able to celebrate their golden anniversary then it is a major accomplishment indeed.

So it is with the Lord and his saints.  One day we will stand in an all to gather different place after time for us is no more, and we will celebrate another occasion that is even greater than this.  That occasion will be that we have finished our course, kept the faith and received our crown from the Lord.  Just as faithfulness to one another is vital in a marriage, faithfulness to the Lord is even more important.  The Bible notes that times will wax worse and worse and we will face many hardships and difficulties.  How we face these times can be a strength to others.  How we stand will be a testimony to the Lord.  Our faithfulness is rewarded with strength to overcome and comfort beyond understanding.

One of these difficult times has come during this time we are on vacation.  One of my daughters and her husband adopted two boys who were damaged goods when they arrived at her home.  Their problems have not been diagnosed properly and they are having a very difficult time.  I am asking my readers to pray for this family to find the help they need so desperately need.  Thank you ahead of time and I will post the answer they receive at that time.

Close Enough

How close is close enough?  I guess that it depends on the circumstances and what you are talking about.  If you are talking about a shave it is within a small fraction of an inch.  If you are talking about horseshoes it is within the span of the mouth of the shoe.  If you are talking about hand grenades, it is within a few feet. If you are talking about a bomb it could be measured in miles.

The real question is not about the distance but about the effect that is desired.  For example, If you have a fire, are you seeking to just get warm, or to cook on it or to destroy with it, the distance will vary a lot.  When it comes to knowing God, do you want to just want to know him like we know the president, or perhaps to get close enough to receive a blessing from Him, or to get close enough to Him to be transformed into His likeness.  How close is close enough for you?

But then, how close is close enough from God’s perspective?  Can you appease Him with a superficial worship and religiously orienting your life?  Will he recognize you because of your good deeds?  Will He be pleased with anything short of the surrender of your will and your conformation to His standards for life and conduct?  How close is close enough?  Is there such a thing as too close?

Mattthew 5:48 Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. God’s standard is perfection.  Close enough just won’t do.  The scripture also states int Ro 3:23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;  How can a sinful man be made perfect if all men have sinned?  The answer is very clear in the scriptures; he must be born again.  Of himself it is impossible but if the carnal nature is surrendered to the Lord. You cannot make it without the new life that comes in Jesus Christ.  He is the only way and by God’s grace and working, we can be transformed into a new creation and in Him all things become new.   2Corinthians 5:17 Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.

 

 

 

 

Adam, where art thou?

 

Ge 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Ge 3:8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden.

Ge 3:9 And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, where art thou?

If you are familiar with Genesis 3 you will recall it is the story of man’s sin in the Garden of Eden.  Satan first deceived Eve and she took the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then she gave some to Adam and he did eat as so began the fall of man.  The first thing that Adam and Eve did was make themselves aprons of fig leaves to cover themselves with because they were naked.   Then in verse 8 we find that they hid themselves from the presence of God because of their nakedness.  Then God called unto the man and asked an odd question.  It would be odd indeed if God did not know where he was because God is everywhere present.  But if God knew where Adam was then why did he ask the question of where are you?  God certainly knew where he was but Adam didn’t know where he was.  Sure he knew his location within the garden but he didn’t know where he was in relation to the Lord.  This was unfamiliar territory, not knowing where he stood with the Lord.

I can’t think of anything more unsettling than knowing that you just blew a great relationship, especially if that other one is God.  You know you were wrong in your choice but the uncertainty of how that choice will affect future relationships leaves you with a sense of impending peril.  You have already attempted to fix it but your best effort is just fig leaves and doesn’t fix anything.  Your pain is in knowing how much you have hurt the other party as well as your disappointment in yourself.  Your shame deepens and you just can’t bring yourself to admit that you were even capable of such an act, let alone take full responsibility for your actions.  Such is the predicament of Adam.

Your next response is critical.  You must decide what response is appropriate.  Do you trust the other party enough to face them with the truth.  Excuses, blame or self justification will only make matters worse.  What qualities do they have that attracted you to them to start with?  Do you believe that their value of you will be worth saving or will the fear of rejection win?  What evidence do you have that tells you that the best thing is to face it head on and accept the outcome and learn from it.  Note that God had come seeking Adam and was not reactive to what He already knew, but was willing to give Adam the opportunity to now make a right choice.  A right heart says that I at least owe him the truth and extend to him the opportunity to advance the relationship in spite of the setback.

Resolution will require courage forgiveness, truth, ownership of our actions, trust and love to produce change.  Your victory will depend on the measure of these elements being present in you.  Do you have the fiber to turn a failure into an opportunity to grow.

Consider A Seed

Have you ever sat down and just considered the seed.  It doesn’t matter which seed you are thinking about for they all follow the same pattern.  For our consideration today we will choose a tomato seed.

It began as a part of the life of the tomato plant.  The plant produced its fruit of a tomato and contained within the tomato were dozens of seeds in their embryo state.  They were the hope of life beyond the tomato plant or the tomato.  They alone contained the hope of continuing the process of future tomatoes.  For that hope to become reality the seed must die to its present life and be separated from the tomato.  It then must be dried and stored for a future time or season.

Now consider the seed.  It is not beautiful, in fact, it looks quite devoid of life and beauty.  Notice that it is brittle and void of flexibility.  There is nothing about it to suggest that contained within it is the next plant that will produce more tomatoes and seeds.  It is quite small compared to the size of the plant or even the size of the tomato.  As long as the seed maintains its present state, nothing happens that will enable the possibilities of the hope that it represents.

Joh 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

The next event in the order of life for the tomato is that the seed must die.  Look at the process of planting.  You take a seed and place it into the ground.  The seed is buried in the dark, damp ground and all hope of it remaining a seed is lost.  Now behold the miracle of the Lord.  New life is generated from the death of the seed and from the seed a stalk begins to grow and pushes its way to the surface of the ground.  It is quite tender, yet it is able to push it’s way through the soil and even lift rocks many times it’s own in order to break forth into the sun light.  Where does it get it’s strength?  From the root system.  As the stalk pushes upward, the roots push downward and draws the nourishment and water to supply the plant above ground.  Without it the plant above ground would simply wilt and die.  Like the new plant, the Christian needs a good root system to supply the nourishment needed to do the work of God.  Notice also the the size of the root system is determines the size of the plant above ground.

The farmer knows about this process and plants with the hope of a harvest.  There may be some value to the nourishment contained within the seed but that is very small compared to the benefit from the harvest to be gained by entrusting the seed into the hands of God.  What you entrust into His hands is your seed and His blessing is the harvest.  But notice that the seed must die.  You must loose all control over the seed and to you it is lost.  Notice also that the seed must have a resurrection.  It must receive the new life from God and is not contained within itself.  God’s measure of blessing is some 30 and some 60 and some 100 fold.