Tag Archive | Bible

Who? Me? Read the Bible?

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Inspired by Matthew 11

“I don’t get it.  I read the words, but they don’t make sense.  I’ll never be a Bible scholar!”

Frustration can easily set in for a Bible newbie.  Often we start out reading the good book in order, beginning with Genesis.  Not too bad.  We understand creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah.  Then, we start getting into Abraham sacrificing his only son Isaac on the altar and start questioning:  Why would God ask him to do such a thing?  We eventually find out it was a test of faith for Isaac.  As we get deeper and further into the Bible, it can all seem like a lot to process.  It’s hard to get over the “thees” and “thys” if we’re reading the King James version.  Often, we just give up.  We don’t feel like we were God’s intended audience or maybe He wrote it for smarter people to interpret for us.

Nothing could be further from the truth!  Look at Matthew chapter 11.

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” (Matthew 11:25-26)

See, Jesus explained that God has made things clear to regular people–not just those with a Divinity degree.  Sometimes, when we have that “childlike faith”, we simply understand.  If it still feels as clear as mud, try another version of the Bible for a while; or, cross-reference versions.  You don’t have to buy all of them–at least buy one hard-copy version that you love.  Then, mark it up!  Underline, write in the margins, make your own notes.  You can go to websites like Bible Gateway to see verses in all versions.

The Bible version I use in my blog is the NIV or New International Version.  Some people say the King James Bible is the most accurate, but I don’t have time to have to work through the Old English.  Other readers favor the Amplified Bible or The Message.  These versions include expanded text and easier language.  Just to give you an example of how those Bibles present the above verse, Matthew 11:25-26:

King James Version
“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.  Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

Amplified Bible
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth[I openly and joyfully acknowledge Your great wisdom], that You have hidden these things [these spiritual truths] from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants [to new believers, to those seeking God’s will and purpose].  Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”

The Message
“Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”

When you keep reading through the Bible, you will see connections and words echoed in the Old Testament and New.  Remember that story about Abraham and Isaac?  When Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb was for the burnt offering, “Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8)  Doesn’t that sound like what God did for us?  He provided Jesus, the lamb of God, as a sacrifice, to save us from death. That sentiment is echoed many times throughout the Bible.  Every time you come upon it, you will feel like you are “getting it”.

God will make His meaning clear to you.  Keep reading the Bible! The more you do, the more He’ll reveal to you.  The Bible is spiritual milk.  It will feed you and help you grow as a believer.  Don’t be intimidated.

 

 

satan is Smiling

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Inspired by Matthew 8

Two girls
from Bartow, Florida,
11 and 12 years young,
conspired to kill innocent schoolmates
in the bathroom,
drink their blood,
and then, 
kill themselves.
To school they brought kitchen knives,
a knife sharpener,
a pizza cutter,
scissors,
a goblet.
A robocall from school alerted a parent her child was not at school.
She was.
Thus began the search for the girl.
She and her friend were in the bathroom…
waiting.
Ready to carry out their plot.
Ready to kill.
Ready to die.
For satan.

 

This is not the plot of a teen horror flick.  Sadly, on Tuesday, this narrative was carried out in live action.  Praise the Lord, the police found the girls before they could harm anyone or themselves.  How could something as sinister as this even come about?  When I was their age, I was sitting by the radio, waiting for my favorite Duran Duran song to come on the radio so I could hit “Play” and “Record” simultaneously on my stereo!  I was playing Mad Libs with friends.  Cheerleading and practicing back walkovers on my grassy front yard.  Riding bikes to friends’ houses.  Fighting with my older sisters to use our shared phone.  Today’s children do not share such a wholesome youth.

Were these girls demon-possessed?  It is very possible.  Media accounts detail some interesting facts in their story:

  • They devised their plan after watching horror films;
  • They searched the internet for ways to kill with a knife, while blood-letting quickly;
  • They believed their murders (sins) would get them into hell;
  • They scrawled violent song lyrics on their murder map;
  • They Snapchatted clues about the planned murdering spree.

I believe there are dark forces in this world.  They want your blood, but they want your childrens’ even more.  The hook comes from music, movies, and social media.  Oh, and you know the über-cool teen store Hot Topic?  They now sell Blackcraft brand clothing.  Dress your darlings in Baphomet, pentagrams, and “Lucipurr”!  If my child came home with a hoodie that read “Unholy”, I would have to perform my own unholy ritual of burning it!

All teens and pre-teens will say, “I don’t get affected by this stuff.”  I pray they don’t.  Maybe the parents of these young murder plotters heard that line, too.  We need to be proactive as parents and know what they are listening to, watching, and buying.  We need to teach them the Word.  And we 100% need to FROG–Fully Rely On God.  We must pray to Him specifically that our children will not get involved with the dark arts.  Innocent colored stones to create a certain feeling can quickly become a hex on someone.  Pray without ceasing for your children’s protection from possession.

Scared yet?  Never fear.  In Jesus, there is always hope.  Evil can still be cast out.  Spiritual scars can be healed by the Lord.  Matthew chapter 8 contains a lot of healing of the people:  physical and spiritual.  Jesus drove out demons–on more than one occasion.  “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” (Matthew 8:16)  Jesus even healed possessed men and put their demons into swine. (Matthew 28-34)

If you don’t believe Matthew, you can read what Mark had to report about Jesus casting out demons.   Here’s Mark 1:25.  “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.”

There’s also Mark 32-34:  “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”

The Gospel of Luke also contains references to Jesus’ healing of the demonically-possessed, and there are many examples of this in the Old Testament, as well. But what about the modern age, today?  Does this still happen?  Yes.  The Catholic Church continues to train priests in exorcism.  That alone tells you satan is still seeking souls to snatch; and, demons are being driven out.

Fight him.  Pray.  Read the Bible.  Fill your eyes and ears with good things and discard the bad things.  Grow your faith and cultivate it in your kids.  Speak life over your children, so death cannot take root.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
(1 Peter 5:8-9)

 

Build the Wall

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Inspired by Matthew 4

We are under attack.

Our walls are porous.  The enemy is trying to get in where we’ve let our guard down and have no border patrol.  How can we stop the flow?

Build the wall.

I am an unapologetic, card-carrying, conservative Republican and defender of our 45th President, Donald Trump; so, you probably think I am writing about our nation’s southern border.  I am not!  The wall I’m referring to surrounds our hearts and is constantly under attack by the real enemy:  satan, the devil, the dragon, the serpent, the prince of darkness.  Whatever you call him, he is constantly seeking to destroy all that is good (and you can’t spell ‘good’ without ‘G-O-D’)!

We first see satan’s wicked plan revealed in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis.  The Garden of Eden had no border patrol.  It was just Adam and Eve.  There was no other person to invade paradise!  There was, however, a supernatural being who wasn’t happy that the first man and woman were living in obedience to God.  So, the serpent slithered towards Eve and tempted her with a delicious looking apple. She ate it.  She shared it with Adam.  They both committed the Bible’s first recorded sin.  As Genesis is a book of firsts, the enemy’s initial lie was recorded in the Bible, as well:  “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)  Their eyes were opened alright–opened to the nakedness and shame of sin.  Satan 1, Man 0.

Moving from the first book of the Old Testament to the first of the New, in Matthew chapter 4, the devil comes to Jesus.  He does this right after we read of Jesus’ full-immersion baptism in chapter 3.  When things are going well and we feel the Spirit within us, the enemy strikes.  He is just hoping we have taken our guard away from the wall built to protect us.  He tries to tempt Jesus three times.  I think he underestimated how strong our Lord was on Earth.  Of course, Jesus resists each time.

How can we meager people resist the wiles of the devil?  Thankfully, the Bible is our Life Instruction Manual!  Jesus lays it all out in Matthew 4 very nicely for us.  Just see His responses to satan for each temptation:

Temptation #1:  “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)  We need to have the Word of God, the Bible, read and remembered.  This is the first line of defense.  Knowing its truths will help us recognize satan’s lies.

Temptation #2:  “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4:7)  Jesus is fighting the enemy’s weak attempts at quoting scripture with scripture.  This also reminds us to believe God, believe His Word, and have a child-like faith.  The Bible tells us, “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 30:17). That doesn’t mean we should party it up with drugs and alcohol and expect that our health will be OK because God said he will heal us.  Don’t test.  Just believe.

Temptation #3:  “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Matthew 4:10)  Worshiping God is essential to avoiding sin.  How is it possible to defy Him when we’re singing about Him, or going to church, or recognizing and admiring His beautiful creations surrounding us?  Worship helps mend the broken fences surrounding our hearts.

Continuing in Matthew chapter 4, Jesus goes onward to preach to the masses, gather His disciples, and heal the sick.

We can follow Jesus’ lead by spreading God’s Word.  We can share it with others by talking, writing, or Tweeting.  My sweet mother Joan always used to put inspirational quotes on our refrigerator.  I told her the other day that was her mission field!  We can passively preach through bumper stickers and t-shirts.  My wonderful husband Paulo created an Xbox user name with ‘Jesus’ in it so all will see His name as they’re playing.  He plays with people all over the world.  That’s a pretty big mission territory!

We can gather disciples by seeking out godly friends.  We can join a Bible study in person or online.  Create ways to surround yourself with good Christian people, and you will have quite the border patrol to combat satan!

Finally, Jesus healed the sick.  None of us can do this of ourselves, and those are given the ministry gift of healing can do it only through the Spirit.  For those of us gifted in other ways, we can pray for the health of the Body of Christ, especially those with demons.  Healthy people make strong soldiers of Christ who can fight what the devil dishes out.

So, there you have it, six general ways we can “build the wall” protecting our hearts from the temptations of the enemy as outlined in Matthew 4:

Know the Bible
Believe God
Worship God
Preach the Word
Gather with Believers
Heal or Pray for Healing

Stay the course.  Be ever watchful.  Make hearts great again!

The Toughest Guy in the Bible

john

Inspired by Matthew 3

Who exudes “Fire and Brimstone” preaching more than John the Baptist?  He is one tough dude.

John, donning a camelhair coat and leather belt, subsisted solely on honey, and of all things, locusts!  Egypt was plagued by them.  John the Baptist plagued locusts!  It doesn’t get more brawny than that.  He’s like a first century AD Chuck Norris!  Schwarzenegger mumbled, “Hasta la vista, Baby!”  Clint Eastwood warned, “Make my day!”  John the Baptist used lines like, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” (Matthew 3:2) and “You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (Matthew 3:7).  This line was so good Jesus Himself even used it in Matthew 23:33 when addressing the Pharisees. “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”  What all these tough guy lines have in common is a warning of impeding doom for unrepentant sin.

People, we need that good old John the Baptist “Fire and Brimstone” messaging back in our churches, back in church signs, back in evangelism.  Tolerance and acceptance have replaced consequences and commandments.  Our priests, preachers, and other pulpit-dwellers have gone soft on us.  For the “older generations” (which I have just now realized I belong to!) this is sad because we were raised in the honest truth.  For the youngins who have not been taught that hell is for real, this has eternal, damning repercussions.

Finally, I leave you with a quote, ironically, from the fallen actor Kevin Spacey playing the character Keyser Söze, in the movie “The Usual Suspects”.  Only God could immortalize these words through an imperfect man.  “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

Stop being politically-correct.  Souls are at stake!  Release your inner tough guy, your inner John the Baptist!