Who Are You?

Who are we really? I’ve heard it said that you are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.  Its a play on words to get you to think about who you really are.  It may be one of the most popular unspoken questions about ourselves that we could ask.  So I ask you, Just who do you think you are?

If you have a low self esteem, you may think little of yourself or your ideas, and not put yourself forward.  Fear may have a great influence over you and your choices.  Your social skills may not be developed very much.  Your goals may not be very high.  Disappointment, embarrassment, and hopelessness may be your closest friends.

On the other hand, you may have a high self esteem and may see yourself being a success in many of the things you do.  You may have a lot of confidence and are not bothered much by what others think of you.  The world is yours for the taking.  You may be popular and have a measure of success.  Still you may have internal questions that leave you feeling hollow or something is missing.

Neither of these positions answer the questions of who you really are.  I found the answer in the Bible.  Ro 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  It is not the name you hang on your door that defines who you are but the values you hold and what controls you.

So if you have become a servant of righteousness as a Christian, then let me ask you again, Who are you really?  For the answer to that question we must again go to the Bible for the answer.  1.  You are the salt of the earth. Matt 5:13  Do you remember the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink?”  Well, I can make him drink.  All I need to do is put salt in his feed.  Then when he is led to the water he will drink of his own choice.  Just create a thirst.  2.  You are the light of the world.  Matt 5:14  The world is in darkness and cannot see the glory of God.  There is a sin barrier between them a God.  You can see the glory of God because the sin issue has been dissolved between you and God, and you can also see those in the world.  You can act as a mirror to reflect His glory to those in darkness.  They can see God in you.  3.  You are the temple of God 1 Cor 3:16  In all of creation the only place that God choose to dwell was in the Christian.  It is an eternal habitation and therefore must be fitted for Him.  He is Holy so we must be Holy.  He is eternal so He offers us eternal life.   1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: and again in 2 Cor 6:16 “. . .as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  4.  Ye are children of God.  Gal 3: 26  Every person is not a child of God because they were born physically.  That is the first requirement that they be human but there is a second requirement to become a child of God and that is to be born spiritually (from above, of the spirit, born again).  That is what Jesus was talking about to Nicodemus in Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  He explained it further when he said that which is flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.  He even  told the Pharisees that their father was the Devil.  5.  Ye are sons (Gal 4:6) . . .heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ . . .(Ro 8:17) A  joint-heir with Christ makes Jesus our brother and we inherit with Christ.  What God has in store for us is so beyond all that we can ever ask or think.  We should so walk that it is clear to all that we are born from above.  6.  . . .ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. . .  We began in this world but we are not of this world.  We have become a part of God’s eternal plan when we chose Christ as our Lord.  Now it is all over but the happening.  Satan can’t stop it and neither can all the demonic forces of the world together.  We are the apple of God’s eye.  We know who we are when we know who’s we are.



An Impossible Command

Lu 6:10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

It was a Sabbath Day at the Synagogue and Jesus was teaching. There was a man with a withered right hand present and the Scribes and Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus knew their thoughts but still he gave three commands to the man with the withered hand.

First, he was commanded to “rise up”,  This command was not directed to changing posture but to the idea of collecting ones faculties.  It could be translated “Wake Up!”  The man with the withered hand had long been held in obscurity and inactivity with the withered hand that he could not use.  Jesus was calling him into service and he needed to move from cowering in subjection because of the withered hand, to the attitude that with or without the handicap of a withered hand he should not let it determine his ability to function as a whole man.

The second command was to “stand forth” which means to stand and keep standing.  He was to establish this new attitude as his way of thinking and living.  His limitation was not to define him or limit him.  He can function as a whole man with the limitation if God so chose.  The truth is that all of us have limitations of one kind or another.  Some are physical, some are emotional, some are mental, and some are environmental.  We can take a position of limitation or we can assume the position of wholeness.  I already have all I need to become all I can be, and the limitation I have does not define me.

The third command was to “stretch forth thy hand.”  This command was impossible for him.  You see the problem with a withered hand is that you cannot stretch it forth.  The hand is withered, that is, it is shriveled and drawn up and the tendons have lost their flexibility.  Jesus was asking the man to do the impossible.  It was not possible for the man to do it but it was not only possible but necessitated by His command to do it.  Herein is the secret of seeing a miracle.  Contained within every impossible command of God is the promise of power to do it. When we respond to the Lord by faith in His Word, He then opens to us His blessings.  When you are given an impossible command you can trust the Lord that He can and will do it for you.  Such is the miracle of New Life.

Viewing the Heavens

I was visiting with my pastor over lunch today and the subject came up of heaven.  It was noted that most people view heaven as simply a remodeled form of things of earth.  You hear statements at a funeral of someone who has died that go something like this, “He is up there doing what he always wanted to do.”  Rarely do we hear a description of heaven that actually depicts what the Bible teaches.  Even then, it may not be heaven at all but a place describe that we are not familiar with so it is understood as heaven.

There are several places described in the Bible that are often understood as heaven but are not heaven.  One such place is Paradise.  It is referenced three times in the New Testament in reference to the place of the righteous dead (Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7)  In the Jewish concept of Hades had two compartments, a place of torment for the unrighteous dead and a place of rest for the righteous dead, called Paradise.  This picture is seen clearly in the story that Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31).  When Jesus was resurrected He gathered the righteous saints from Paradise and took them with Him and now the compartment of Paradise is empty.  Now, when the righteous die, they go immediately into the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).  Only the unrighteous remain in Hades and are preserved to the day of Judgment.

Another place that is often confused as heaven is the millennium or 1,000 years.  This is in reference to the time that the Lord will reign over all the earth and establish peace among all people and living creatures.  (Isaiah 11:1-16,  65:17-25)  This scene is where the wolf and the lamb feed together and the lion will eat straw like the cow.  It a picture of perfect harmony and peace.  This is the picture of the righteous, but the picture of the unrighteous is a picture of terror and horror.  It is also known as the day of the Lord.

A third place that is often confused with heaven is “Heaven above“.  This is also know in different translations as: firmament, expanse, dome or vault and is understood as the spiritual dwelling place of God now, as opposed to earth as a physical place.  It includes the atmosphere and the expanse of space and is referred to being above.  It is also addressed as the unseen world.

The place that we know as heaven has several characteristics.  One is that it is an eternal place.  It is unending, which is a concept that our feeble mind has great difficulty grasping.   We exist in time and space and change.  In eternity there is not such thing as time or dimension or change.  Everything is: and it is without beginning or end; it is without measurement; and it is without change.

Another characteristic is that in heaven there is that the things that were necessary for our development have now ended and no longer have an eternal purpose.  Tears are gone, death is defeated, sorrow, crying and pain are no more, and the memory of all these difficulties cannot be found.  I think it is similar to a mother giving birth to a child.  She has pain that is necessary for the birth of the child, but once the child is born the mother cannot remember the pain.  Yes, she can remember that she had pain but she can no longer feel the pain.

In heaven, there will be a lot of rejoicing.  It will not be so much for our gain but because of the full realization of God and His glory.  Like a diamond that is uncut looks a lot like just another rock but when it is cut, the beauty and the magnificence of it is revealed.  It was there all of the time but now it is fully realized.  We are the workmanship of God and look just like other people but when the Lord is finished shaping and making us into His image we will appear like Him and so the glory of God will be seen in us.  This picture pales in comparison to the Glory of the Lord as we behold Him for who He is.

1Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  It won’t be a remodeled world it will be the presence of the Lord with an eternal and spiritual existence.  Our activity will have eternal purposes and not for selfish or wordily reasons.

The Lost Coin

Luke 15:8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?  9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

The lost coin was lost while going about doing her regular duties.  It was not lost because of negligence nor from carelessness.  It was lost in an effort to and a focus upon her responsibilities.  She was unaware that she had lost it in the course of doing her duties.  It also represented an important part of her means of completing her jobs.

Yesterday, I was helping my son prune his peach and cherry trees.  I was focused on both completing the project and teaching my son how to do it for himself.  After we finished the job and the cleanup, my wife and I were visiting some friends and I felt an itch on my ear.  When I reached up to scratch it I noticed that I was missing one of my hearing aids.  My first thought was where and how did I lose it?  As I began to mentally retrace my steps I noted the last time that I knew that I had it so that was a beginning point and I progressively moved forward.  I remembered loading some branches into the truck and noted that that was a possibility so I called my son and asked him to look in the truck.  He did not find it there.  At this point I got out my broom and began to sweep the situation – that is I asked the Lord to help me find my hearing aid.  As I considered that the Lord knew exactly where it was, I became totally dependent on Him to guide me to it.  When I came home it was late so I took care of my evening chores and went to bed.  When I got up this morning I felt I knew to best place to look and that was under the peach tree that we pruned the day before.  I went back to the rental and introduced myself and told the tenant what had happened and asked him if I could look in the back yard?  He was very gracious and even went out to help me look and I found the lost hearing aid right where I thought it must be.

The first thing I did was to thank the tenant for his help.  The second thing I did was to make two phone calls to report the good news.  One to my son and one to my wife and we all rejoiced together for finding my lost hearing aid.  As I was traveling home, I was reminded of the above scripture and how much we need the Lord to be involved in all of our lives.  We need Him to lead us through even the mundane events that are an important  part of who and what we are.

The Comforter

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

There was a time when I was jealous of the disciples because they got to spend over three years walking with the Lord and learning from Him every day.  I guess that I felt cheated because I was not one of them.  I love the Lord and wanted every advantage that could be had to know Him and His way.

I guess that the disciples felt something a bit similar to that when Jesus spoke these words to them.  They had come to respect Him and they also loved Him and knew that He was indeed the Messiah.  I am sure that they felt the impending loss and drew back from it.  You see it in Peter when he tried to defend the Lord with a sword in the garden when Jesus was arrested.

Jesus knew how that we cling to him.  What we don’t see is that clinging is man’s effort to hold onto Him and we should be trusting on His holding onto us.  He told Mary in the morning of His resurrection, “Don’t cling to me.”  He knew that we were weak and could not hang on tight enough so He devised a better plan.  He would hold onto us and He does have the strength to keep us.  Not only that but if He went away we would need His presence and power within us.  His statement about His not going away revealed that this greater relationship would be impossible unless He did.  As long as Jesus was present in bodily form then He could work with us one or only a few at a time.  But with His plan to go away opened the way for Him to live “within” each of us individually.  This promise of the “Comforter” gives us an advantage that even the disciples, who walked with Jesus, never had.  They had Christ with them but we have Christ within us and we can know Him as He is knowing us.

Word Study Commentaries

I have a number of helps in my library that I have come to trust and have been a great source of insight.  They are know as Greek word studies.  You don’t have to know the original language to study the bible.  You can know its original meaning by using these word studies.  They will give you the original word and its meanings and the other places in scripture that the same word is used.  In addition, it will give you the variant meanings of its use.

There are a number of these and I won’t give you a complete list but there are a few that I use the most.  There is W E Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words where each word is keyed to Strong’s reference numbers as well as many other keys to its use.  It includes the old as well as the New Testament words in a one volume book.

W E Vines also has an Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words which is his older work on only the New Testament

There is Kenneth Wuest’s, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.  It is a three of four volume set covering most of the New Testament, verse by verse.  He also has a complete New Testament translation from the Greek.  He also, gives you the original Greek work and its literal translation.

There is A T Robinson’s New Testament Word Pictures.  He doesn’t cover all of the New Testament but he does cover most of it and has some good insights as to word usage.  This comes in a 6 volume set with extensive insights into the Greek understanding and thought processes.

There are a number of other such references, some of which are not as reliable as the others, but for the average Christian today it is a giant step toward reading the bible in its original language and getting a more accurate understanding of God’s word.


Cross References

When I first became a Christian, I had a simple King James version of the bible and it had almost no helps in it.  As I was around other Christians and saw their bibles, I noticed that they had a center column down the center of each page with a lot of small notes.  I asked them what that was and was told that they were cross references.  So what are they for, I asked?  They are to refer you to other places in the bible that are related to that verse.  Being quite ignorant of this new tool I asked, so how do you use them?

They showed me that when you are reading a verse, sometimes you will see a small number or letter, raised a little higher than the type which is to signal you that there is additional information available.  If you find the corresponding number or letter in the center column, it will refer you to where to look.  So I tried it and immediately I was confronted with another problem.  Every book of the bible was abbreviated so I was shown that the abbreviation was simply the first two or three letters of that book.  For example, Matthew is Matt or Mt, and John is Jn.  I pretty well figured that out and then I found another problem.  What was the numbering system?  I was then shown that each cross reference was listed the same way: book, chapter: verse. I also learned that the book abbreviation may or may not be followed by a period.  Then the chapter will always be followed by a colon (:) which is then followed by the verse(s).  Okay, I think I have it . . . but then what is the dash?  In the example:  Jn 3:16-18 the dash means the same thing as it does on a grave stone, everything in between, or verses 16,17,18 all inclusive.

The next thing I found was that in the cross reference there were numbers or letters repeated but with different references.  That turned out to be quite simple.  It meant that there was more than one reference to that particular place in the bible.

Sometimes I would look up a cross reference and it didn’t make any sense at the time but as I continued to learn more and more about the bible I found that there was indeed an insight that I didn’t know about.  I also found that sometimes I already knew about the relationship and didn’t need to go there as I recognized it immediately.  Cross references have added a whole new dimension to my bible study methods.


I have an article in my list of articles on this website entitled Six Blind men from Isdostan.  I am not the author but I felt that it was so good that I wanted to share it.  It is about the experience of six blind men who “saw” an elephant for the first time. Each one had a piece of information that was true but incomplete.  We call that a perspective.  We are correct insofar as our view takes us but it does not take into account the whole.

There are times in my own experience I have found myself standing in a position much like the six blind men, defending my perspective, but not understanding the whole view.  This is why it is important to step back sometimes to gain a fuller perspective which will aid in our understanding.  It is important to remember that perspective is accurate but it is limited and can be a distortion of the truth.  For example, we have all seen shadows that appear as objects other than someone’s hands.  They are a distortion of the truth.

Another example is 4 people at a table looking at a cup in the center of the table.  The first sees the cup with a handle on the right; the second sees a cup with the handle in the middle; the third sees a cup with the handle on the left and the fourth sees a cup but no handle.  They are all right but their perspective limits their view and their report is quite different than the others.

When we are listening to another, we should remember to take into account their perspective.  It can prevent an argument and a host of other problems.  When we are studying the Bible it is important to consider the truth in light of the context.  Also, it can be helpful the compare scripture with scripture which is the best commentary on the scripture.  The cross references will help you do this.  Good study methods are essential in studying the Bible.

Listening for the voice of God is also a great practice. I must make a couple points of caution here.  First, an idea that just popped into your head is not necessarily the voice of God.  There are other spiritual voices such as Satan and his cohorts.  Every idea must be compared with scripture for God will never contradict Himself.  You become proficient in knowing the voice as you grow in your relationship with the Lord.  He said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27)

It is important to remember that hearing the voice of God is a growing experience.  The more you know Him the more you will trust Him.  Jesus invitation in Mt 11:29 (Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.) is to make it easy and possible for us to get to know Him.  He will give all things the right perspective.

Bible Study

Yesterday I had the privilege of having lunch with 16 of the men from my Sunday School class.  As we talked after lunch the subject came up about creation and I shared a tidbit from my studies that there are three words in Genesis that we often use about the creation event.  The three words are: creation, form and make.  I noted that they are different words and do not refer to the same event.

The word that is translated create is from the word bara’ and means to bring into existence from nothing.

The word that is translated make is from the word ‘asah and has the meaning to take that which is already created and to fashion it into a tool or object of purpose.

The word that is translated form is the word yatsar  and has the meaning to mold or extrude or squeeze into shape.

I pointed out that because these are different words with distinct meanings that they are not referring to the same act.  When God created man is when He brought him into existence, which was before the creation of the world.  When God made man is when He placed man into the created world.  When God formed man is when He made him a body to live in this world.

So why is this important?  Careful bible study will aid us in realizing that man was not made a complete and perfect man when he lived in the garden of Eden.  The completion of man will not be fully realized until man has first been born physically, and then born from again (John 3) and then finally receives his resurrected body (Ro 8:23)

Bible Study is not just reading but it also includes working with the language, the times, the setting, etc.  It is a lot like mining in that you have to work your way through a lot of hard rock to get to the precious gold – but it is more than worth it.   2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.