Archive for September, 2022

Live in a Day Tight Compartment

Watches and calendars have very little control over us if we control them. Resolve now to become the keeper of both. If you don’t control the others who don’t know your priorities will.

Start now realizing yesterday’s glory is ancient history. Past failures are to be forgotten. Don’t live the life of a peacock whose glory is behind it.

Tomorrow is only potential. Don’t waste today worrying about tomorrow. Whatever you do don’t rush by today to get to tomorrow, neither pull tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine. 

Against this background read the following heavenly insight letting it soak as you read. 

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’’or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6: 24 – 35)

Pause and ask for divine guidance in making the spirit of those verses your new or renewed lifestyle.

In this passage Jesus instructs us to live in the present. It is good to plan for tomorrow, but not to worry about it. It is good to enjoy reflecting on the past, but not to worry about it. You have enough to deal with today. It is easy to become so focused on the past or future that we waste the opportunities afforded by today.

The equation is to remember the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.

How to Be a Lovable Valentine 2/15/98

Song of Solomon 8:6, 7
Page 998 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Our culture is one noted for synthetics, substitutes, and simulations. When anything of value is made immediately someone will copy it. It is the most common form of flattery. Gucci scarves, Louis Vuitton handbags, Rolex, and Cartier watches, video cassettes, and designer jeans are readily copied. One common characteristic of the fakes is they never meet the standards of the genuine.

Our Lord said, “love.” Many of His followers took Him at His word and did it. The impact and influence was so dramatic that the world tried to copy it. Hoping for the same fulfilling result offered by genuine love, the world has come up even more empty as a result of fake love.

Karl Menninger, co-founder of the Menninger Clinic, one of the modern era’s most outstanding psychiatrist said, “Love is the medicine for the sickness of the world.”

AGAPE is the Greek word translated “love.” We have one word “love” for a variety of emotions, acts, and attitudes. The Greek language being very definitive has several.

One is EROS. They used this word to speak of love that we know as physical attraction between persons on a sexual level. Their word for that emotion was not related to what was meant by AGAPE. We get our word “erotic” from their word EROS.

PHILOS, was the Greek word for a kind of love which we describe by friendship or brotherly love. It is warm affection apart from any sexual attraction at all.

AGAPE, is the Greek word most often translated “love” in the Bible. The word emerged in the Bible era meaning “the ultimate willful act of self- sacrificing for the welfare of someone else.” The AGAPE kind of love is Calvary’s love. The proto-type of AGAPE is the love Christ showed us.

Only when we love Him with a love that is self-sacrificing for His welfare can we get EROS and PHILOS working right.

Tragedy of tragedy is that in our society an attempt is made to define all love by the definition of EROS, that is, sensual, fleshly love. For that reason it is inconceivable that brotherly love can exist without sexual involvement. Or, that self-sacrificing love can be expressed without expecting some sexual favor in return.

Annually American’s celebrate a festival of love called Valentine’s Day. People in England celebrated the day as early as 1446. A writer in an American magazine as early as 1863 noted, “Indeed, with the exception of Christmas there is no festival throughout the world which is invested with half the interest belonging to this cherished anniversary.”

However, it was the Romans who initiated the celebration. In the 200’s a Christian named Valentine lived in Rome under the cruel Emperor Claudius II. Claudius II had Valentine put in prison for aiding persecuted Christians. There he was the Lord’s agent for healing the jailor’s daughter of blindness. Around 270 AD he was beheaded on Palatine Hill, a victim of his loyalty to the Lord.

In 496 AD Pope Gelasius named February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day; a day to celebrate love. Today we continue the custom of sending love notes to special people in our lives. They express our love for others and solicit their love with the expression “Be My Valentine.”

Jesus Christ is the personification of God’s valentine to us. He is a declaration of love embodied. In turn He solicits our love for the Lord. Some Valentine verses are warm and rich with sentiment, some mushy, some humorous. One I like is this.

We went to Cupid’s Garden and wandered ore the land
The moon was shining brightly and I held her little scarf.
Yes, I held her little scarf. Ah, how the moment flies.
The stars shone out in beauty, I gazed into her lunch basket.
Yes, I gazed into her lunch basket and wished I had a taste.
There sat my dainty little charmer, my arm around her jam box.
Yes, my arm around her jam box, this charming little miss.
There was mischief in her eyes and I softly stole a sandwich.

A golden oldie goes like this:
Roses are red, Violets are blue.
Your mother was beautiful, what happened to you.

On a higher note and with more purpose we can better understand the meaning of true Biblical love, by considering how the word AGAPE is used in the Scripture. Note:

Try substituting some of the meanings of EROS in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world…that He felt romantic about it…that He got a tingling sensation down His spine…that He had a friendly spirit of tolerance and brotherhood toward it no matter what it believed…”

The text says He loved so much that “He gave His only begotten Son.” Love is an act of willful, self-sacrificing for the good of another.

A word of caution lest Satan twist even that meaning. We are to love Christ with such self-sacrificing love that we obey Him at all cost. If that doesn’t come first, then some persons can conceive of sacrificing their personal moral purity to gratify the sensual desires of a carnal person. This is a form of self-sacrificing for the welfare of another. It is a perverted improper form.

When Christ told us to love our enemies, He was not urging us to have a warm, wonderful, happy relationship with them. That may be impossible. He was appealing to His followers to engage in acts of self-sacrificing service in order to win them. It means to give without expecting in return.

Little Chad was a quiet, shy child. One day he told his mother he wanted to make a Valentine for every boy and girl in his class. Her heart sank. To herself she said, “Oh, I wish he wouldn’t do this.” She had seen how the other children ignored and mistreated him. Walking home from school Chad was always a few steps behind “the gang.” They laughed, talked, and hung on each other, but ignored Chad. He was never included.

His mother decided to go along with him. As he requested she bought the paper, glue, and crayons. For three whole weeks Chad worked every night until he completed the 35 Valentines.

On the big day Chad was excited as he left home with his 35 hand-made Valentines.

His mom knew what to expect so in order to be prepared to cheer him up when he came home she baked him his favorite cookies. This would help ease the pain of his disappointment.

That afternoon she waited with the warm cookies and cold milk. Hearing the children coming from schools she looked out the window. Sure enough, same scene. The group laughing, talking, and hanging on each other with Chad a few steps behind.

As he walked in the house his hands were empty. She choked back the tears.

“Mommy has some warm cookies and cold milk for you Chad,” she said.”

He hardly heard a word as he marched by with his face aglow, and all he could say was “Not a one … not a single one.”

And then he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”

This is the kind of self-sacrificing love in Christ’s name that can reach hardened hearts and win them to Christ. Remember our objective is not to win friends for ourselves but to win followers of Christ.

It isn’t a song until it is sung.
It isn’t a bell until it is rung.
It isn’t love until it is given away.

The kind of love the Father wants to harvest in your life has several facets as noted in I Corinthians 13: 4 – 8. Observe: “Love suffers long,” that is, it is patient. This word was always used to speak of patience with people not circumstances. We are to be patient with circumstances also, but this word relates to personal relationships. It is the ability to be wronged and wronged again and having the power to retaliate but never even thinking about doing it. That is love.

Christ at His trial is a perfect example.

II Peter 3:9 says of God “He is longsuffering — not willing that any should perish.”

God has had many opportunities to step on us and He has the ability to do it, but the idea has never occurred to Him. He is patiently giving opportunity to lovingly repent and relate to Him so you will not by your rejection of Christ consign yourself to hell.

The person who during courtship in the name of love insists on erotic love isn’t showing patience. Such conduct reveals that what is being called “love” is “lust,” that is, it is eros not agape. Love can always wait to give while lust can never wait to get.

“Love …is kind.” This is the flip side of patience. Patience endures the injustices of others while kindness pays them back with good deeds. Inherent in the Greek word for kindness is the meaning of being “useful.”

This identifies love as being uncompromisingly courteous. It is a triumph of grace. Love without kindness would be like spring without flowers. Love doesn’t just endure injustice, it pays back with good.

Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies…feel good about them.” He said, “do good to them,” that is, “be useful to them.”

Regarding certain offenses the Bible instructs us: “Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head'” (Romans 12:20).

In New Orleans I was talking with a woman who was fed up with her husbands conduct. I asked, “Have you tried heaping coals of fire on his head?” She said, “No but I tried boiling water.”

In the Bible era fire wood was scarce. As a result it cost to keep a fire going for future use. When the wealthy finished with a fire and left it the poor would often try to slip in and take a coal to start their fire. The text means that when an injustice is done to you don’t treat the offender poorly, show them kindness. Give the needy so many coals that the weight is such that they have to carry it on their head. Heap coals of fire upon the. Be useful to them.

“Love does not envy.” Another word for “envy” is “jealousy.” Shakespeare called it “the green sickness,” Solomon spoke of it as “rottenness of the bones.” A Latin proverb called it “the enemy of honor.” It is “the sorrow of fools.”

One form of envy is to want what you have. Another is to wish you didn’t have it.

The root word for envy means to “boil.”

Envy and jealousy are not rational passions. They are white-hot emotions set on fire of hell itself. Revenge is foolish and futile.

“Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” To be “puffed up” means to have an attitude of false pride while the idea of parading oneself means to verbalize pride. Our word “windbag” comes from the root word “vaunteth” or “parade.”

This is the flip side of envy. Envy is wanting what others have. To be a boastful windbag is to try to make others want what you have.

“Love does not behave rudely.” This is a reference to Christian etiquette at work. Love is always polite and never disorderly.

“Love does not seek its own.” It isn’t selfish.
It doesn’t seek its own kind.
It doesn’t seek its own way.
It doesn’t seek its own rights.

“Love is not provoked.” The root is the word from which we get our word “paroxysm” which means “a sudden outburst.” Thus, love is never ready to fight.

Love isn’t irritable and resentful. Self-centered people are always touchy.

“Love thinks no evil.” The word “thinks” translates LOGIZOMAI which was an accounting term meaning “to keep a mathematical account.” Love doesn’t keep score. One bad thing about score keeping is that one who always insist on keeping score insists on being the score keeper and the score keeper always wins. This is the same word used to speak of God’s pardoning act toward us.

“Love does not rejoice over iniquity.” Love doesn’t brag over sin. “Eternity” magazine had an article related to Ernest Hemingway in which he said people can sin and get away with it.

He also down played the idea that the consequences to sin was Victorian, prudish, and a religious fundamentalist viewpoint. The article went on to say Hemingway was living proof of this fact. Ironically ten years to the day after Hemingway released that statement he took his own life. Instead of repenting over sin, he rejoiced over it.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Everybody soon or later sits down to a banquet of consequences.”

“Love rejoices in the truth.” Jesus, the way, the TRUTH, and the life is the personification of “the truth.”

Do you rejoice in Him so fully that you are willing publicly to give yourself to Him as a self- sacrifice?

Agostino d’ Antonio, a sculptor from Florence, Italy, worked diligently on a piece of carriona marble. In frustration over his failure to do anything constructive with it, he discarded it. Other sculptors tried in vain to work with its obstinate composition. Michelangelo saw the massive discarded marble and had it brought to his studio. Painstakingly he began to work on it. Slowly his skilled hands began to release the hidden beauty in it. Eventually his efforts resulted in the classical work of “David” being freed.

The secret of the success was not the stone but Michelangelo. Look at your life! Is it incomplete, perhaps you even have a feeling of being discarded. You are a potential masterpiece. In the hands of Christ He produces nothing but His best from your worst. In love commit yourself to Him.

Love is what drew our beloved Lord from Heaven.

Love it was that took Him to Calvary.

His was love that many waters cannot quench nor can the floods drown it. Love wins in the end.

You Are Never Alone

Years ago there lived an elderly couple in a modest cottage on a tiny island in the Great Lake area. They lived alone in isolation without any neighbors for many miles. Their remoteness and isolation concerned their friends, Dr. and Mrs. Roy L. Smith. One day the Smiths had a council of love and decided to invite the couple to come and live out their days with them. The next day Dr. Smith and one of his daughters went by boat to the remote island where the couple lived by themselves. To the gracious invitation came the reply, “Of course, we can’t accept the invitation, can we, dear?” The couple then led Dr. Smith through the yard and along a winding pathway until at last they came to a clearing with a carpet of green grass bordered by beautiful flowers. In the center of this little clearing was a tiny mound with a snow white cross at its head. The old man put his arm around his wife and said, “We can’t leave our island home, for you see we lost a son here.”

Likewise, no matter what happens, God will never leave this floating island in the sky called planet earth because He gave His Son here!

He will never leave us or forsake us. You can rely on Him. 

Do you ever feel like He isn’t as close as once He was? If so, it is not He who has moved. Consider the causes of your drift and reverse your course. Let Scripture serve as your supernatural GPS.

Drift is often imperceptive. Unless it is realized there is little likelihood it will be stopped. 

God not only created this island, He has a considerable investment here. For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him might be saved.

Bethlehem was God’s Normandy. There He came to seek and to save. When He left planet earth He left gray stones on Calvary stained by His red blood, His footprints in the Judean sand, and His influence on the ages. When He left for His heavenly home He said, “Whosoever will let Him come after me.” That is an open invitation.

Hear this well. The resurrected, overcoming, King of Kings and Lord of Lords dwells in you. His spirit resides in you. Therefore, you have an example and an empowering Lord domiciled in you. That means right now the Lord is near you to comfort you. That can make you an oasis of faith in a barren land of uncertainty.

Regardless of what you are experiencing or will experience, hold your head high and walk with pride, you are a follower of the loving Lord who said, He would never, no not ever, no never leave you. Got it! That is a forever never with no exception ever. Emblazon that on the sky of your mind.

That means right now the Lord is near you to comfort you. That can make you an oasis of faith in a barren land of uncertainty.

A Revolutionary Concept of Problems

J. B. Phillips’ translation of James 1:2-8 is a refreshing rendering. It makes clear a Christian can even welcome trouble. Read the following version and meditate on it.

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.” James 1: 2-8 Phillips’ Translation in Modern English

Challenge yourself to take whatever time is necessary to memorize it. Be patient, but persistent in doing so. 

There are two themes in the text. The first deals with how to consider problems, and the second with prayer. Both are critical in developing a contented and productive life as a believer. There are two operative words. The first related to problems is “endurance,” and the second dealing with prayer is “ask,” dealing with prayer.

Endurance in dealing with problems is everlasting. One never gets over having problems and it is essential to deal with them properly, meaning endure the effort of considering them properly.

Observe the two distinct words: trials and temptations. Trials are designed to make us strong. Temptations are allurements intended to entice us to do evil. Both, rightly responded to can make us stronger in our faith and more loyal in our conduct.

In Jesus’ model prayer is included “lead us not into temptation” and “deliver us from evil.” The first relates to what we might do, and the second to what may be done to us.

As used “ask,” meaning to keep on asking, is a progressive process also. It means to continue in prayer about an issue until the Lord convinces you otherwise. Don’t grow weary, abide.

Now go back and read the Scripture again. After doing so, read it in your favorite translation. Let it soak in until it becomes instinctive.

Sounds Like Greek

The origin of the Greek language from which the English Bible was translated indicates advanced planning by God. May a recounting of it encourage you to realize God is at work in your life today. Regardless of your circumstances God is at work to bring the best out of it.

At a point in history various forms of Greek: Attic, Doric, Aeolic and Iconic, were spoken in various regions of Greece.

At the battle of Leuctra the King of Thebes with 7,000 warriors defeated 11,000 Spartans by using a new oblique battle formation. Thebes then controlled all of south Greece.

Sitting on a hill overlooking was a warrior from north Greece. His name was Philip of Macedonia. He and his countrymen were animal-like warriors. Philip went back to his countrymen and taught them the new oblique form of battle.

Philip and his redheaded wife Olympia had a son named Alexander, who was to grow up and be known as Alexander the Great. He became a conquering general at age 16. While still a teenager his dad was killed and Alexander took over his position. He desired to conquer Persia, but there was a disconnect. His army spoke different forms of Greek. This young genius got his scholars together and developed a common form of Greek known as Koine, which became the language of Greece. He then composed his own drill manual. Using it he conquered most of the near east and made Koine Greek the language of the region. A number of Jesus’ disciples had Greek names: Philip, Mark, James, John, Luke, and Andrew. One of Jesus’ languages was Greek.

When Rome conquered the entire region, the administrative language became Latin. Rome conquered the region militarily, but the Greeks conquered it linguistically and philosophy. This is why the region at the time was spoken of as the Greco-Roman world. Greek had become the perfect language in which to express a thought.

About 400 years after Alexander the Great developed Koine it became the language in which the New Testament was written. It was so definitive they had four different meanings for the word “if.”

First class, “if” and it is true.

Second class, “if” and it is not true.

Third class “if” maybe yes, maybe no.

Fourth class, “if” I wish it were true, but it isn’t.

If (and it is true) God would work all those details together for good, He can do the same in your life. Relax and trust Him.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)

That does not mean everything that happens is good. It means in everything that happens, everything, God is busy to bring the good out of it. Trust Him.