Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Times & Seasons

Jewels to Meditate Upon:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

2 A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;

3 A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;

7 A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;

8 A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

I would like to share a beautiful presentation with you on Ecclesiastes 3 recommended by Chris Long. The Canadian Bible Society put the lovely Scripture of the 3rd Chapter to Pachelbel's Canon in the accompanying video...and in so doing really nailed the poetry of The Book. When God's Word is offered in this format, you just can't help but sit back and let it REACH INTO YOUR SOUL. This blessed me and my guess is it will really bless you too.

Just click the below link to watch or copy link & paste in your browser - MAKE SURE you have your sound turned on! Enjoy!



The Bible - Fiction or Fact?

The Bible - Fiction or Fact? Selwyn Stevens,

What is the Bible? Is it really the written Word of God? First we will look at what this book is and how it came about. The Bible is a collection of 66 separate books which together make a unique and powerful book. The word Bible comes from the Greek 'biblia' which simply means 'books.' The Bible is usually called "The Holy Bible". Holy means to be 'set apart by God.' So The Holy Bible is the Word of God; it does not merely contain the words of God. It is different from all other religious books because God, through the Bible, enjoys letting people know about Himself. The unique design of the Bible is one of the best proofs of its divine inspiration. Many different men at different times wrote their part of this book, without any contradictions. This can only be explained by the Master Author's guiding hand. .

Divine Inspiration

According to 2 Timothy 3:16, all Scripture is equally inspired. The N.I.V. says "All Scripture is God-breathed...". This refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in His creative capacity. We do not know the actual 'How' of inspiration, but Christians believe that each writer had liberty to use his own personality, education and experience within certain limits. Paul's educated and logical mind is evident in books such as Romans and Galatians. The Holy Spirit watched over every thought, phrase and word to preserve accuracy.

The Test for Approval

Writings which were regarded as divinely inspired were accepted only when the writer was proven to be a True Prophet of God. That means no false prophecies had been spoken by him. This is quite different from unfulfilled prophecies.

The Old Testament

This was completed by 400 BC. The translation into Greek was done by 70 learned Scholars from Alexandria. This was known as the "Version of the Seventy" or the "Septuagint". It was in common use during the time of Christ and the Apostles, and was frequently quoted in the New Testament. The other main version of the Old Testament is called the "Masoretic Text".

How Did The New Testament Come About?

The New Testament completes the true written Word of God for all people and for all time. This means that the Bible is the standard by which we must judge all teaching, doctrine and belief. The Old and New Testaments together are sometimes referred to as the 'Canon,' which means 'standard.' Irenaeus of Lyons, an Elder of the early church, said in 180 AD, "The Scriptures are perfect, in as much as they were uttered by the Word of God, and His Spirit." (note; Jesus was often referred to as 'The Word of God,' see John 1:1).

Along with many others Irenaeus used both Old and New Testaments as 'Scripture' without distinction. The early Church held a number of councils to make decisions on which were divinely inspired writings that could be commended to the growing church. Most New Testament books received official recognition within 100 years of being written. The last few were confirmed at the Council held in Carthage in 393 AD. Each was accepted because of its unmistakeable authority and inspiration. It is both reasonable and fair to suppose that He who inspired the New Testament writers also participated in the formation of it. We may confidently believe that we have in our hands the Word of God, complete and undiluted.

Some of the New Testament books were written to individuals, some to churches or groups of churches. Their self-evident authority and value caused them to be copied and recopied for an ever-widening public. By the year 90 AD many churches had copies of Paul's letters, and by the early second century they had all four Gospels as well.

What Does The Bible Say About Itself?

The writers of the Bible insisted over 3,000 times that their words were the Word of God. The words of Jesus plainly show that many of His arguments and teachings were based on quotations from almost every Old Testament book. As I have studied what the Bible says about itself, a very clear message is evident. It is best summed up in this passage; "Do not add to what I command you, and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you," (Deuteronomy 4:2 NIV). Nowhere does any Scripture even hint at disagreeing or disputing with any other part. This theme goes right through to the end of Revelation, where there is a warning that those who add to the Bible will bring upon themselves all the plagues and curses written in the Bible, and those who subtract from it will find themselves removed from the 'Book of Life' (God's record of those who are saved), and they will miss out on all of the Bible's promised blessings.

Numerous Old Testament writers spoke of the Lord touching their tongue and putting His words in their mouths to speak to the people, for example 2 Samuel 23:2, and Jeremiah 1:9. Many of the Psalms of David and others spoke of the Words of the Lord being pure words which He would preserve for all generations. "The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever," (Isaiah 40:8).

What Is The Scripture For?

Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, said during the Temptation: "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," (Matthew 4:4).

Later on in Matthew 24:35, Jesus said very specifically that heaven and earth would pass away, but "My words will by no means pass away." That is a statement indicating His Deity, for He is clearly stating that His word is the Word of God.

The writers of the New Testament tended to explain more than the Old Testament writers what Scripture was for. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16). "For the Word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," (Hebrews 4:12). "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation (or origin), for prophecy never came by the will of man but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit," (2 Peter 1:20,21).

I was interested to come across one Scripture which I hadn't noticed before, which says that the Scriptures will be the standard of judgement on the last day. "He who rejects me and does not receive my words has that which judges him, the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day," (John 12:48).

What About The Many Versions?

There are many versions or translations available, to suit every level of understanding and education. Since the major revisions of the Bible in the 1880's, over 100 new versions have become available. There have been several good reasons why new versions have been needed. One of the most important has been the changing use of words. Some of the versions available, such as the 'Good News' and the 'Living Bible,' are not actual translations but paraphrases. The intent is not to stay with the original meanings of words, but to use word pictures to get the same message across. This has especially benefited those for whom English is a second language.

God Can't Be Limited to One Version!

In summarising the issues involved in the multitude of versions and translations, I would say this; God can never be limited. Even a mis-translation of a version can still be used by God to touch people and to convict them of their sin and to show them their need of a Saviour. There is no evidence that shows God hid His true word for 1800 years and has only allowed this to be found in the past few decades. God's Word is eternal, and no man or government will thwart God's purposes. There used to be a bumper sticker around in the early 1980's which read "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it." It would be more accurate to read "God said it, and that settles it, whether I believe it or not."

Measuring Revelations by The Bible

God may speak to His believing people through prophetic words, visions, dreams and other revelations: but God speaks to all His people most surely through the Bible. All forms of revelation should be weighed against the Bible. These should be put aside if they don't measure up with the Scripture. Our leading for guidance and direction is best summed up by "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things: hold fast to what is good," (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

So the Scripture - the written Word of God - is the supreme standard by which everything else should be judged and tested.

The Bible Explains "Why!"

Science may have answers to many questions, but that does not make the Bible irrelevant. Scientific explanations answer questions such as 'How?' But the ultimate question is 'Why?' and science cannot answer that. Science has many unproven theories which may differ from Scripture, but the God who created our world also wrote His Word truthfully. Many historical facts recorded in the Bible are now beginning to be proved by new finds in archeology etc.

There are those who teach that the church (or at least their denomination) is the final authority on matters of doctrine and life. All I can say is that the Word of God is infallible and trustworthy, and it is older and more accurate than any denominational church. The Bible is completely reliable and worthy of our reading, believing and obeying.

The Bible is not an idol. The Christian's only desire is to worship and glorify the Lord the Bible reveals. The key to understanding the Bible is Jesus Christ. The unbeliever has difficulty understanding the Bible, and may remain untouched by its message of life and salvation.

The Christian believer accepts the supernatural character of Scripture - it is self-evident. We meet God through its pages, and find pardon, new life and the assurance of eternal salvation. God's Word is true, and "...a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," (Psalm 119:105).

If you have never read the Bible, you may not be aware that God wants to speak to you through its pages. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Your Life is Jesus to Someone

Your Life is Jesus to Someone (Author Unknown)

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." - John 13:35

YOUR LIFE is Jesus to someone,
though tattered and torn it may be.
Though often times weak and unstable,
you're all of God someone will see.

YOUR TONGUE is Jesus to someone.
That idle, insensitive word
reflects to at least one searching heart
an idle, insensitive Lord.

YOUR GOALS are Jesus to someone.
What you put first, they believe,
are the goals of God for the Christian.
Your life is all they receive.

YOUR FAITHFULNESS... that's Jesus to someone.
Their judgment of how God is true,
rests unquestionably in the faithfulness
they see day by day in you.

YOUR LOVE is Jesus to someone --
that someone who is seeking to know
that Jesus will follow and guide and
befriend wherever in life they might go.

SO BEWARE lest others blaspheme God
by what you say or do,
for the only Jesus that someone may see
is the Jesus they see in you.
Reflective Thought

"A man's life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching." - C.H. Spurgeon

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;" - Ephesians 4:1-2

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Soundness of Speech

Jewels to Meditate Upon:

"A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult." Prov 12:16

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Prov15:1NIV)

"A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." (Prov15:1NLT)

"A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire." (The Message)

"Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield" (Psalm 33:18-20).

"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Psalm 34: 4, 6).

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us." Titus 2:7-8

Reflective Thoughts:

If you feel you have no faults......there's another one. ... If you don't learn from your mistakes, there's no sense making them."

"Isn't it staggering when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? And we had some cities yesterday where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn't even faze us." -Leonard Ravenhill

A Gentle Answer (by Kerry S. Doyal)

A Fool-Proven Recipe for Caustic Relationships:

Take one cauldron of an angry person, Stir thoroughly with your own harsh responses, Yields scalding spillage, burns and pain.

As Proverbs 15:1 instructs:

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (NIV)

When we encounter hotheads: Miss Miffed Molly & Ticked off Tommy, our response can change or charge the tone & interaction. We can add fuel by striking back, showing them who's all that. Or we defuse the ticking timebomb by wise, gentle replies."

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." (NLT)

How to keep an argument going:-

Don't ignore that comment said in anger - Forget forgiving; fire back - zing 'em good

Such is a scorched earth approach to relationships. You can watch the damaging flames of relational furry set in. Smart - real smart.

Or - Plan B - as in "Best":-

Absorb the cheap shot, the hurtful dig, the rude question - Swallow your pride & tongue as you pray for grace. - Speak peace, answer with gentleness, calmly, if at all

"A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire." (The Message)

Prayer: "Lord, as you shut the mouths of the lions & protected Daniel, protect others by helping me keep mine shut. And, as you opened the tomb to bring life, may my open mouth bring healing and life to others in Jesus' name."

More Meaningful Mouth Musings from Prov. 15:

2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.
Don't Retaliate - Show Underserved Respect!

Prov 12:14 “ From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him”

Most people that work hard realize that hard work not only feels good but also brings reward. Today's Fresh Manna verse says "From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him." It's saying that the work of learning to speak right words with a right heart and attitude is just as important as working hard with your hands or mind. The strenuous labor of speaking right and appropriate words when your emotions don't feel like it or when you just want to spew, promises great reward.

Prov 12:16 says, "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult."

Did you catch that?

The insult was hurled but the prudent man overlooked it. This person is looking much further than the annoyance. This person is looking through God's eyes of love at the big picture of life. They aren't letting themselves be controlled by the emotional stimulus of the moment. Love, forgiveness, godly perspective, and doing what is right are the core values of someone who keeps themselves in check. This person understands the power of giving respect to the one that doesn't deserve it and consequently, won't retaliate with insults. This person has learned let their words and response be respectful and represent God.

We grow in learning how to speak the truth in love. We learn to hold our emotions in check and keep a respectful attitude. We can't afford to forget that godly communication carries a learning curve. It's a process and takes hard work.

The joy is in knowing that in time, having respect for all people despite what they deserve becomes an instinctive part of your character over time and brings favor and blessing to your life.

Don't be impatience with your lack of success in your efforts to have respect for others. Don't forfeit the process and your efforts. Continue working at it till you get it down. And, don't lose sight of the reward and benefit of learning to speak the truth in love. It is one of the greatest aspects of maturity and will lead you to greater blessing, promotion, and harmony than you could have ever imagined.

Oh yes and one last benefit. You glorify God and influence others with your pattern of good behavior and godly speech!

As Titus 2:7-8 says, "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."

Used with permission: Pastor Tim Burt - Fresh Manna for Tuesday, June 2, 2009 http://www.freshmanna.org