Category Archives: 2020 missed passages

Jude: Last Days

Jude: Last Things

            Jude, the brother of James the Younger, not to be confused with James and John the Sons of Thunder. This is a very short prophetic book and is filled with many questions and references outside of our ability to fully comprehend. Topics such as angels, prophecies and the spirit of Balaam are things which will be constantly debated and never settled. So, let us focus on what we can understand, and discover why this small book was included for our benefit in the scriptures.

            Something that I had to finally accept about the church and people who profess Christ, but do not possess Christ – there are unbelievers in the Church. Shocking I know, but as Jude says, they have crept in and have been rewarded for their attendance record, yet never been challenged for a Testimony of Conversion. It should not come as a surprise that many churches are ran like a business instead of a body of believers. Jesus tells us that there are those who “cried Lord, Lord did we not do . . . . ?’ and Jesus tells them I do not know you. Profession is not possession. Jude tells us to “contend for the faith.” This is a good word; I have found that people will compromise and collapse like a deck of cards with they are pressed for their faith. I cannot help but think of the likes of John Hus, William Wilberforce, and John Wycliffe who suffered and sacrificed for the Gospel.  

Jude gives us examples from the Old Testament of the rebuke of God towards these charlatans. He tells of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Balak and Balaam. Even telling of Enoch and the ungodly generations that follow. It is sad to say we live in a day such as Jude describes and find that many in leadership positions, including Pastors are described in Jude 16 – preaching for sordid gain. It has become a job, instead of a calling.             The good news is found in Jude 17 – “But You. . .” keep building, praying, waiting for the Promise of Eternal Life promised in Jesus Christ. So, what is the message – the world will continue as it always has [as in the days of Noah] but that does not mean we have to succumb to the way of living.  Jude admonishes the believers to have mercy on some who doubt, save others, snatching them out of the fire, mercy on those who fear or are weak in the faith. While the world is going to Hell in a hand basket – Keep the Faith and continue to do ministry. While we will not save the world, we will save some through the Truth of the Gospel.  Last Days are here – do not be overcome by them – be found faithful as He who has called us is faithful!

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2 Peter: Stirring Up

2 Peter: Stirring Up

            Quite a contrast from the Peter we find in the Gospels. Here we have the mature, aged Peter giving instructions to the Church. Peter has lived his life with Jesus and been a pillar of faith for the new church and his countrymen. We know that both Paul and Peter die in Rome, under persecution of the faith. Peter now is writing this last letter to remind the saints the importance of the faith and perseverance.  Obviously, Peter knows what it is like to have fallen from the faith because of threats of men.

            I know there are many commentaries and theologians that debate whether Peter wrote this second letter, but since we find that it had acceptance by the early church and God has permitted it in our canon of scripture, I will side with the belief that Peter wrote it, God authored it and included it in His revelation to us.

            In the first chapter Peter reminds the believers how they are to conduct themselves in the world. Our brother James enlightens us on the desired working of trials and tribulations. [James 1:2-5] Peter is wanting to stir up by way of remembrance to the saints what the faith should be and that they will hold to the tenets of faith in a tribulation environment. [1:13, 3:1]

We have the oft quoted 2 Peter 1:19-21, on how the prophetic word comes to us. This is a line drawn in the sand for believer. If we question the authorship of scripture other than the utterances of God – we bring great suspect to the bible as the Word of God. Our bible is not the word of men and their opinions, but the very unction of God to men.

Peter brings to light the rise of false prophets, not just for his time, but in latter days. We live in a day and time where churches and lost listen more to the word of men and their philosophies, then the Word of God. As Believers we must KNOW the bible so that we can “test the spirits’ to know if they are from God.

            Peter gives a very in-depth exposure of what false prophets and charlatans do to people of faith and unbelievers. There is a great distortion of the Truth. Even today we have “fact checking” to verify whether what someone says is the truth or not. But people today are not interested in the truth, they want to hear what they already have made their mind up about. [2 Timothy 3:1-5]

            As Peter exposes the tactics of the false prophets, it is interesting that people are more willing to listen to a lie than the truth. Since Peter was present at the very beginning of both Jesus’ ministry and the Church Age, he would have firsthand witness of what was Truth and what was the message of Jesus and the Gospel. I am impressed with how this brash and flippant natured Peter has settled down his human character to be a defender of the faith. This is the same Peter who fled and denied Jesus in his moment of trial. Peter has learned not to deny or run from conflict and adversaries, but to take a stand for the faith regardless of the consequences pending death.

            Peter writes this letter with his own pending death at hand. Yet he spends the third chapter delineating the pending judgment coming at the end of the age. Peter talks about the Coming Day of the Lord, the inescapability of that day and how that God’s time is not our time. I am reminded of the book Francis Schaffer wrote “How then shall we live?” Since all these things are to come about – how should the people of God live? Will we cave into the pressure of trials and tribulations to find comfort in our earthly time, or will we stand the test, even martyrdom if necessary, to speak the Truth with conviction?

Peter admonishes his audience to “stand fast, be on the guard, but grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord.” Tough days are not coming, they are already here. I read almost weekly how some popular person of faith has either fallen or left the faith due to pressure or failure. Now is a most important time that we, the believers be fund faithful to the TRUTH that has redeemed us. Let our faith be unwavering in the face of trials and tribulations!

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Titus: BE the Church, not Do Church

Titus 1-3: The Church-Organization and Relationships

            This short three-chapter book could be seen as a sequel to 1 Timothy in scope and principles of the Church institution. There are two offices that Paul denotes in the organizational structure of the church – the Pastor/Elder/Bishop and the Deacons. After having been a pastor for over 23 years, I have a bit of understanding o the necessity and need for these positions to be established.

            Titus has been a sort of silent partner in the missionary journeys of Paul, but very supportive and critical resource. Titus like Timothy has been left behind to care for the young established churches and to set them up organizationally as well as instructionally I spiritual matters. Young Timothy was placed at Ephesus and Titus at Crete.

            One of the most critical aspects of the modern-day church that I have heard – is that it’s members have become institutionalized. I deal with church health and find that this is very true. People get stuck and are more inclined to support the institution rather than engage in scriptural ministry. So, when we begin to talk about positions and power within the church, there are various on-going struggles.

While Paul does not give Titus any additional requirements for Pastors and Deacons, the church has empowered these positions with either too much or not enough authority to fulfill their duties. I have pastored in the Baptist faith, more specifically the Southern Baptist Convention denomination. I have been taught that churches are completely autonomous and do not fall under any other ecclesiastically institution. However, we have many denominations that use other than Congregational polity. The Presbytery and the Episcopal polities organize quite differently. The Deacon office is more of a Board of Directors that dictate the functioning of the church. It is a downward directed relationship. Pastors are directed to a place of office at the discretion of the Episcopate. In other Reformed churches the Elders are the authority in the church and direct the functioning. Missing is what the Congregationalist have which is “member voice” in decisions.

In Titus we do not find the overwhelming bureaucracy, we find the basic tenets of the organizational structure. The emphasis is on the man not the power of the position. As Paul wrote to Timothy, the qualifications and character of a man serving the church is vital. Today I find that there is still much debate on what Paul set down as qualifications. Churches are ordaining divorced men, women, and deacons are likewise with the same issues. Now, I disagree with the point that the most significant qualification is the debate about martial status. The whole man must be evaluated. Also, I find that if the man is not suitable for the ministry, regardless if he meets the “church” qualifications – then do not lay hands on him.

If a man is not already doing the work of the ministry then, he should not be considered. I know that a church can ordain anyone they want, that does not make it right. I have seen men who were ordained to the office of deacon, who were babes in the Word. It was like the church said – well he is a faithful, good old boy, let us do this for him. That sort of “reward ordination” weakening the office!

On the office of Pastor, there seems to be quite a variance in how much authority and power the Overseer should have. The church calls the man to the office of Pastor, then restricts his ability to minister as the Lord has directed. Did the church just want a “preacher?” Now Paul was establishing these very important positions, but we must see them not as Offices of Organization, but Spiritual positions of Ministry!

Titus is also instructed in how the church should get along. Younger members were to respect the older, yet the older were to teach the younger how to live out their faith. I find that this has fallen on hard times. It seems that Church has become every person for themselves. Paul instructs Titus about church discipline in 3:15. As the church, people/members are under obligation to represent Christ in all our dealing within and without the church body. God has well said that we are like sheep – stiff-necked and hardheaded.

I do not know what the issue was as Crete, but the continued reminder to do good deeds and live sensibly tells me that the church could have been like many of our churches today – a church in name only. The functioning of a church is to win the lost, do benevolence to the widow and orphans and exalt the name of Christ among the nations. It has been said – the Church is the only organization created for those other than themselves.

Finally, The Church needs to BE the Church, not Do Church!

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Philemon: Slave, Servant and Saint


Philemon: Slave, Servant and Saint

            Looking at this very short book we discover that it is filled with many Christian principles of fellowship. While we could focus on the fact that the owner, Philemon was within his rights to require Paul to send Onesimus back; there is a much deeper principle at worker. How do we deal with brothers and sisters in the faith that are subordinate to us?

            I ran into this question very early in my faith as I worked with my commander, a major and I an enlisted guy. Off duty we were members of the dame church and he being, a deacon friend. But during the day, I was fully under his authority and command. He did tell me that when we were off duty, I could call him Jerry. But this did not seem right, and I told him, rather than compromise his position, I would always refer to him by his rank.

            Looking at this book, Philemon was correct in wanting his run-a-way slave to return. But now Onesimus was a saint in the faith and had a great testimony with the Apostle Paul. I guess the question comes about – how do we treat people who we previously know were rascals? I remember when I went home for vacation that I meet some people in church that definitely had a past. I said to myself – well that is the last person I thought I would see in church! Of course, they could have said the same thing about me.

            In this personal letter, Paul is asking Philemon to receive Onesimus back as a brother in Christ and forget that he was a slave. Paul says that he previously was “useless to you.” Paul is asking [not telling] Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul.

Obviously, there is a lot to consider here. Is Onesimus still a slave? Does Philemon have any say in the matter of Onesimus – I mean is he obligated to receive his run-a-way slave back as a brother? And how would that effect their relationship?

            The overarching principle is reconciliation. Paul says receive Onesimus as you would me; but he does not say that Onesimus is no longer a slave but is a saint. The two, Philemon and Onesimus have issues to work out.

            How does this apply today? Well, we are all engaged in master-servant relationships. If we are both in the faith, we should not expect unfair treatment or privilege from our bosses. But we also should not put them in positions of compromise either. We have additional advice in Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 4:1-4 on this subject.

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Ruth 3-4: Redeemed, Relatives and Rejoicing

            As we know the story of Ruth and Boaz have a great ending. In chapter three we have the courting process. As strange as it may be, it is quite honorable in that culture. Do not let our western eyes and thoughts bring ridicule to this love story.

We learn quite a bit about this Boaz and his role as kinsmen redeemer. While he is wealthy, he is honorable, compassionate and a hard worker.

Ruth is schooled by Naomi on the courtship with Boaz. Cleaning herself up and going to Boaz, lying at his feet. SO as not to bring embarrassment or reproach on either of them, Ruth leaves her humble position before daylight. This should not be seen as hypocritical behavior, but discretion and character.

After the evening, Boaz takes great interest in Ruth, trying to find out who she is and her family. He learns that there is another who might redeem her and that this matter must be closed before Boaz can pursue Ruth. Interesting – does not Satan our adversary claim right to us? Did not our Savior have to settle the issue with Satan – defeat in this case of death, so whatever ownership would be dealt with? Jesus on the cross was the price of our redemption. All suitors so to speak had to be dealt with so that Jesus would have full access to redeem a people who were not a people – Gentiles and foreigners we are – Ephesians 2.

            Please notice the work that God is doing in the life of Naomi – 3:16 is a definite change of heart. Naomi calls Ruth not her daughter-in-law but now daughter. I find the actions of Ruth; this outsider is actually the change agent in the life of a disgruntled Naomi.

            In chapter 4 we have the culmination of the Boaz and Ruth story, but the beginning or better yet the continuation of God’s plan to bring a “kinsman redeemer” in the person of Jesus Christ, while also preparing the establishment of the “Throne of David.”

            Boaz does all his account settling with a “cloud of witnesses” so there will be no further claims on Naomi and Ruth’s lives. When the only other person rejects redemption, Boaz has a clear path to act. The other relative could not redeem – but Boaz could and did. We must see this that there is no redemption except through Jesus Christ. He redeems us and does what Boaz does, Jesus has made us His Bride – the Church. Ephesians 5:22-26 describes how much he loves us.

            Boaz takes on the Goel role in 4:10. But this is anything but an obligation response, but a love response. I alluded to Tamar in the first blog on Ruth, now here in 4:12 we find the inclusion into this story. Restored was Naomi, but greater still was the new/on-going line of Jesus Christ. The reproach of Naomi has been replaced with restoration and rejoicing. Ruth and Boaz have a child named Obed – Obed is the father of Jesse who is the father of David – and the rest  is what we call history!

            So, what do we learn form this short yet impacting book? Difficulties in life should not cause us to quit but stay the journey. Naomi had to return to face the point of her departure in Bethlehem. We must be willing to travel along with “foreigners” if they are willing to follow our faith, through commitment.

            Finally, let the Father in Heaven finish writing His Story [your story] – Philippians 1:6!

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Dead End Road Brings A New Journey

Ruth 2: Dead End Road Brings A New Journey

            Ruth 2, Enter into our story Boaz, a man of faith, prominence, and wealth. Boaz is a distance relative of Elimelech. Ruth and Naomi reach Bethlehem during the barley harvest. There is a principle called “gleaning” in the Old Testament that provides for the poor to harvest the corners of the fields during harvest time. This is where Ruth finds her ability to get grain for her and Naomi. What a great testimony of Ruth, willing to not only follow Naomi, but then be the “bread winner” of the two for survival. Ruth knows who she is, she is the foreigner in this situation and must get the favor of the landowner to glean the fields.

I taught our two daughters to glean in the fields of Belgium. While we were foreigners there, we were able to go and glean the fields of potatoes. You would be amazed at the amount of potatoes we gathered. How did I learn of this gleaning principle? When I was a child, my sisters and I would use gunny sacks and glean the Joe Klaas family fields. We used the field corn to feed the hogs we raised. Gleaning is hard work and can be well worth the effort.

            Of course, the gleaning principle seems to be lost in our age of computerized harvesting. In her working the fields, she is noticed by Boaz, who asks her to just glean in his fields. She is treated with great compassion and favor, knowing that she is in competition with the other women who actually have Israelite roots.  Why would Boaz do this? Again, it is the testimony of Ruth and her faith. People notice how we behave and act towards each other. Boaz had heard of her care of Naomi.

Point of interest in the book of Ruth – the phrase “Found favor.” This phrase is stated at least three times in this chapter. Favor – grace is unmerited favor. Her we have Ruth an outsider being shown favor. He had no right to any of the privileges of the Israelites, yet here this widow from Moab finds the grace of not only man, but God. We have been shown this “unmerited favor” through the kinsmen redeemer Jesus Christ. He has redeemed us and made us heirs of the Kingdom. Now I am getting ahead of myself.

            Boaz shows much character and compassion in dealing with Ruth. Ruth it seems has full access to the provision and protection of Boaz – could this not be seen as our position in Christ Jesus as well? When Ruth returns home that evening, she has between 20-25 pounds of barley.

            I find that towards the end of chapter two, Naomi seems to have an attitude change. I wonder though is it because of the provision from Boaz’s field or is she returning to her own faith? This brings the point up do we excel in our faith when things go our way – or will we trust God during the difficult times too? This last year with Covid-19 has tested all of us, many have not passed the testing time. I know of pastors and church people who have walked away from ministry and the church. James 1:1-3 and Romans 5:1-5 tell us that the testing of our faith really and the perseverance during the trials really is a litmus test of whether we are in the faith at all!

            This chapter ends with Naomi sort of beginning to play the role of “Match maker.” More on this later.

            The Journey back for Naomi was the same New Journey for Ruth. We must remember that God does not work in a vacuum. Romans 8:28 – all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose. We are all walking through dark times – emotionally, mentally, physically, and most definitely spiritually. Stay the course – our heavenly Father knows what He is doing!

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Famine, Family, Faith and Future


Ruth 1: Famine, Family, Faith and Future

            There are a few women in the bible that do not fit the Jewish mindset of heritage and ethnic lineage. Think of Tamar, the widow daughter-in-law of Judah, Bathsheba, and Rahab. Ruth is one of those women, she is a Moabitess, from the line of Abraham’s second wife Keturah. [Genesis 25]

We pick up the story with Naomi and family leaving Bethlehem, the city of David, also called the “House of Bread” because of a famine. Talk about your irony! It is still the time of the Judges in Israel History. Naomi and Elimelech have two boys. They move to Moab; I presume to find work and food. The move is not just across town, but quite a distance.

While moving to a new place can have it pros and cons, especially trying to fit into the culture, disaster hits the family. First, Naomi’s husband dies, the two boys have taken foreign wives, and soon they die. Our story is about how Naomi in her grief is comforted by Ruth.

Naomi has the attitude that usually takes over in times of grief and sorrow – self-pity. In her darkened state of mind, she has a conversation with the two daughters-in-law about how they should go back to their people and she will return to Judah, in reproach and shame; having man to provide for her. Her return would be one of ridicule and need. Naomi feels that God has forsaken her. AT first, the two women, object to the suggestion, but after being pressed, Orpah takes Naomi up on her offer.

It is interesting that Naomi tells them that she is too old to have sons, which would invoke the GOEL, kinsman redeemer law. [this is what got Judah in trouble with Tamar] Essentially, the GOEL principle states that in the case of a brother dying without an heir, his brother is to take his brothers wife and provide an heir, and if he dies without an heir, it moves down the brothers until an heir is provided. [Matthew 22:25 story] Back to our narrative, Naomi gives them their release.

Ruth enters into a conversation with Naomi; now I find no explicit revealing of the faith of Ruth, but it definitely is there implicitly. Ruth talks about Orpah going back to “her gods” but Ruth in 1:16-17 takes her stand to stay with Naomi. This is awesome, obviously there is faith and God of Israel conversations and display during their stay in Moab. Ruth makes a vow, I will go where you go, your God will be my God and your people will be my people. Where you die, I will die. What a tremendous statement of faith! I have used these verses in marriage vows to show the commitment and dedication to the union the couple are making. Now, let us think about all this from Ruth. What is she going to? Who is she going back with but a bitter, depressed Naomi! If it would be difficult for Naomi to return, how much more difficult for a foreigner to go back?

Naomi takes the position with God that many takes when life situations are no longer in our favor, we grimace and groan about how God has delt harshly with us. Ruth relentless in her vow to stay with Naomi reflects amazing faith and commitment for family, faith, and future. Let us think about it, what does Ruth have to stay for in Moab?

During these days in our society and pandemic culture, the future is uncertain, but journey we must. The future is unknown, but our faith can still shine. Let our faith in our loving Heavenly Father guide our days as we travel into a New Year. Yes, this has been a most difficult year. Anything that seemingly could go wrong has, but we are not left to solve these difficulties on our own.  We must travel into this new year with hope and faith – Our God has a plan, even in the darkest days! 

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No Christmas

I recently read an article by Tucker Carlson [The Christmas Lock down are here at After reading his article I began to think about what if Christmas were not just canceled, but never happened? I mean we have movies about the Grinch stealing Christmas and seemingly some dastardly henchman trying to thwart Christmas. SO what would it be like in our world if Christmas really was canceled or never happened? I think of the Back tot he Future series of movies with Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown. They always are alerted not to change the past because the unknown effects on the future. Well let’s look at what our world would look like of Christmas never happened. [I know that Herod and Satan tried to prevent it]

If Christmas never happened – that means Jesus didn’t go to Calvary, he wasn’t born of a virgin named Mary. I guess the main thought about Christmas is the definition of the word Christmas – Christ Mass. It means worshiping the Christ. There is no celebration of Christmas because Jesus was never born. For Christmas to be, Jesus had to be born. This means if Jesus never came, then God’s promises of a Savior were lies.

Just as the Apostle Paul talked about Jesus and his resurrection, if Jesus is not raised, [1 Corinthians 15:14] then preaching is in vain. There is no forgiveness of sin and no eternal life. This means we are still in our sins and men most miserable.

I would like for us to go back even further than just the Christmas story, for the birth of Jesus started long before the angel Gabriel talked with Mary. We really have to go back to Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God – that statement includes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we look at that single verse we find that the “Trinity” godhead already existed. In Genesis 3 we read that mankind sinned and fell, being alienated from God who is holy and just. In Genesis 3:15 we have a prophecy that there would be a Savior that would defeat Satan and sin.

All through the bible we are reminded through the prophets that a Savior would come – Isaiah 61 for example. The Old Testament looked forward to the Messiah/Chrism coming. If Jesus never is born we can’t get to the Cross and Calvary, much less an empty tomb of the resurrection.

Now some may say that Jesus could be born, but maybe never go to the Cross – impossible, for that was the very reason Jesus came – to give his life as a ransom for many. Luke 19:10 tells us that Jesus came to seek and to save the Lost.

But let’s step away from the bible for a moment. Let’s take Jesus completely out of the equation. If all other religions were still in existence, then man would be compelled to try and live a good life – or not. When we look at humanity, when let to itself we are capable of the grosses deeds to ourselves and humanity. World history is replete with the henchmen of the world wreaking havoc on mankind. I guess we would look like the world in Back to the Future II where Biff does find the book with all the sports results of the future and how he manipulated that information to bring total depravity and darkness to the world. I would think without Christ, our world would be much like it.

If Jesus never was born, never lived a sinless life, never fulfilled the prophets prophecies, never went to Calvary, never died and rose again on the third day; then everything we know about life changes! God doesn’t love us, we are left to ourselves and all that is, is this worldly existence and there isn’t Eternal Life. We are still in our sins – and to be pitied!

For the past several decades, society has been trying to eliminate Christmas – calling it a holiday. Removing any “Merry Christmas” from our speech. Historians have been trying to remove BC and AD from our history narratives. BC – Before Christ and AD -In the Year of Our Lord, have been altered to BCE – Before Common Era and CE – Common Era. These to abbreviations eliminate Jesus!

But here is the Good News – Jesus has been born, no amount of rewriting history can destroy or deny that fact. Jesus did live a sinless life, He did go to the Cross at Calvary, he was buried in a borrow tomb and Yes – Virigina, Jesus did rise again the third day and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is sitting on His throne, the throne of David! Yes, and one day Jesus is coming again for His people and to establish His kingdom! The good news, we have the Gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ – Yes CHristmas is here to stay, not matter how people try to eliminate it. Our God loves us and has sent His son, Jesus to be the sacrifce for our sins, that we may be restored back to our Heavenly Father! What a gift – Let’s Worship the Christ for that is the reason for CHRISTMAS!

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Historically Accurate, Gloriously Precise

Luke 1-3

Luke is one of the synoptic gospels, the others being Matthew and Mark. This means that the books contain much of the same information. While the same information is included, the arrangement, while chronologically presented, does have writer placement variations.

Dr Luke, the traveling companion of the Apostle Paul, wrote two books in the New Testament, to the same person, one called Theophilus. We do not know much about Theophilus except that he must have been someone of prominence. Luke tells us that Theophilus has been taught in the things of the Christian faith. Luke is taking on the task of confirming what he has been told, as truth. Luke does not use hearsay, but affirms his account based on eye witnesses and those that were servants of the word [Word – Jesus].

One aspect of Luke’s gospel is the historical accuracy which he weaves into his writing. There have been scholars who had contested some of the people and the time frame Luke places them in his narratives, but after further investigation, Luke was found to be accurate in his details.

While reading this first chapter I got stuck in the first two verses. Dr. Like explains why he is writing and the various other writers reasoning’s. Luke says that many have attempted to compile the historical ministry of Jesus and his followers, but only to capture those things that had happened among them. Luke relates what was “accomplished” as the ministry of the Gospel. These events, are now history, they have been affirmed by eye witnesses, and passed on having been verified as accurate events. This Theophilus has been taught by those who were involved and witnessed the historical happenings, just as young Timothy was from Eunice and Lois [2 Timothy 1:5]

After 400 years of silence, God Speaks! We know that the Old Testament closes with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin having returned from Babylonian captivity after 70 years. The books of Nehemiah and Ezra recount that journey. History has moved through the empires of the Persians, Medes and Greeks, on to the Romans. These events are contained in the the Old Testament Apocrypha and are not included in our bibles, primarily these “Extra books” are of historical content and do not add to the Gospel Story. The Canon of books we use to make our bible are books that the first church used already before anyone tried to compile a “bible” of books written by the various writers of old – 2 Peter 1:16-17. Luke is well aware that many had tried to capture the writings and events of the New Testament times. Luke wanted to ensure they were above reproach and passed the test of scrutiny from those who might try to discount the historical and spiritual movement of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

Our text this week contains the second accounting of Jesus’ birth. But before Luke brings all that to light, he captures the work of God is the preparation for Jesus’ birth by telling us about John the Baptist. In Isaiah 40:3 – it says “Prepare the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert.” Also in Malachi 4:5-6, “Behold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.

Think about this – One like Elijah would be sent. Elijah the Old Testament prophet was a fire preacher proclaiming the righteousness of God. John the Baptist was the “Voice of one crying in the Wilderness.” John’s message, repent for the kingdom of God is Coming! John prepared the land and people for the presence of Jesus Christ and His salvic ministry to us. Galatians 4:4 tells us that “in the fullness of times, God sent forth Jesus.” God was at work in history preparing the way for The Way. Each of the previous empires added significant contributions to “making straight the paths” for Jesus to come and accomplish all that was necessary in God’s reconciliation plan of man back to Himself.

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Wanting to Die

Job 3-7, looking at this title i am sure that many will want to skip over the post. But when we look at Job’s thoughts in chapter three, one cannot but feel the lament and anguish he is feeling. To be so down trodden that one would curse the day they were born is hard to imagine. Yet we find that many today for various reasons have taken their own lives. Now i have never had to endure what Job did in such a few short days; to lose everything earthly that he had cherished. I have heard people tell me “I wish I had never been born!” This almost sounds like George Bailey in the Christmas movie called “it’s a wonderful life.” Life got so overwhelming that George believed that he was better off dead than alive. If a person is without HOPE, the sentiments are very real. The problem with taking ones own life is that it is a lie. The world has a deceiver and liar roaming to and fro to see who he might devour. In our reading, Job is reeling from the pain, but also throwing a pity party. I know that sounds terrible of me, but the very God that he previously praised, is the God that will deliver him. Our faith does get tested, we go through horrendous trials, but we are not alone. God has not forsaken us! Job is in some serious dumps, and along comes his “friend” Eliphaz to talk with him. Now up until now the three friends just sat and looked at Job. No aid was offered, no drink or food; they just looked at Job in his emaciated state.

Eliphaz begins to indict Job by saying that only the guilty or eveil are punished. But there is a air of condescending towards Job – “you offered words of council to others,” to make the point – you acted so high and mighty towards people in your council, but look who is having to eat those words now! I am sure Eliphaz was jealous towards Job, yet i would have thought as a friend Eliphaz would have tried to comfort his friend instead of kick him while he was down?

I guess we do find out who are true friends are when we are down or in trouble. The indictment Job receives is a typical conclusion for Old Testament people. The belief that if you lived right, you would be blessed; but if you had trials and tribulations, they were a result of sin in the person’s life and that God was punishing the person. Today we have adopted the philosophy that “good things happen to bad people and that bad things happen to good people.” While that is true to some degree; it is anything but a concise explanation.

AT this point no one really knows why Job is going through the severe testing except God and Satan. I think the unknowing answer to the “WHY” question probably causes the greatest stress and struggle, for we cannot reason within ourselves the answer. Because of our lack of understanding the WHY, Satan is able to tell us lies and the worse lie is that “you will be better off if you were dead.” Humanity believes the lie, for the goal is to quit hurting [emotionally, physically and mentally].

Job endured the ridicule from his friend, even midst the missing answer of why he was going through the trials. There have been times for all of us that a season of turmoil that seems too much to bear; only to have someone come along and give us their advice or answer to why. Too many voices rattling around in our head prevents us from hearing the one true voice.

God loves us, our hope is in knowing Him and the peace that only He can give through His Son Jesus Christ. Becoming a believer in Christ does not make us immune to trouble and trials. But is does enable us not to have to go through those times alone. Hope is a great need for all of us, especially in our ever-changing culture. Proverbs 3:5-7 – trust in the Lord and lean not to your own understanding.

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Filed under 2020 missed passages