Saturday, April 29, 2006

Music in the Psalms

Psalms 63:7 "for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy."

Psalms 57:7 "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!"

Psalms 33:3 "Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts."

Psalms 92:3 "to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre."

Psalms 101:1 "I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music."

Psalms 13:6 "I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me."

Psalms 92:4 "For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Gentleness is a sweetness of disposition and softness of manners. This has often been attributed as a solely feminine virtue, but is this the explanation given in the Bible? No, this partial definition only scratches the surface.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 says “And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

This sounds more like the complete definition given in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. To be gentle is to have a mildness of temper and meekness. Meekness is not easily provoked and shows forbearance under injury and provocation. This is something that all followers of Christ are called to.

Titus 3:1-2 addresses this same issue. “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
Who can say that they have mastered gentleness? We continually need the Lord’s help to show courtesy and avoid quarrels.

Psalms 18:35 shows us that God is our example and support in gentleness. “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.”
Although gentleness might be considered by some individuals as a character trait that stands in the background and never ventures out to do anything bold, we are to remember that Paul through divine inspiration instructed us to correct our opponents and teach. This, however, should be done from the platform of gentleness.

Think of Moses. He was the meekest of all men, and yet he confronted Pharaoh, led the Israelites through the wilderness, dealt with their unbelief and complaints, and had a close relationship with God.

Gentleness stands in contrast to pride, arrogance, and selfishness. It is unassuming. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who perfectly lived a gentle life. It should be our prayer that He forgive us of our failure in gentleness and guide us into a better understanding of the gentleness and love of God. He will help us become courteous, willing to do good work, and capable of correcting others gently.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blogging Joke Isn't So Funny

Young people should never blog without parental approval. Today's Blondie comic strip illustrated how silly it is to blog things too personal to show to your own father. Anything published on a blog is open to the potential eyes of thousands of people, and yet some people write posts that are embarrassing and detrimental to their character and safety.

Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”

Click HERE to read today's strip.

For the most part I have been very impressed by the blogs I have read by Christian young people. There is a seeking after truth and a desire to become more like Christ that is commendable. Blogging has shown me what other Christians are learning and considering from the Bible, and it has helped me focus on problem areas in my own character. Hopefully we are not like the daughter in Blondie who was ashamed to show her blog entry to Dagwood.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Faithful Wounds?

God is faithful!
Psalms 145:13 "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works."

1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
Psalms 86:15 "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."


Encouragement to be faithful:

1 Samuel 2:9 "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail."

Proverbs 28:20 "A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished."
Psalms 31:23 "Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride."
Proverbs 14:5 “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies”.
Matthew 25:21 "His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."

Luke 16:10 "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
Question:

I came across the following verses in my Bible reading a few days ago, and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this proverb. How much rebuke is too much? Are we really supposed to “wound” our friends?

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

God is the only one who is totally faithful. Everyone else falls short.

Faithfulness:

“1. Fidelity; loyalty; firm adherence to allegiance and duty; as the faithfulness of a subject.
2. Truth; veracity; as the faithfulness of God.
3. Strict adherence to injunctions, and to the duties of a station; as the faithfulness of servants or ministers.
4. Strict performance of promises, vows or covenants; constancy in affection; as the faithfulness of a husband or wife.”

Who can be said to do their duties accurately every time? Who is constant in their affections? Only God is perfectly faithful. Psalms 36:5 says “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

With God’s help we are to emulate His faithfulness. As He is constant, we are to be constant. In Psalms 37:3 we are told to, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”

Faithfulness includes continuing in the tasks that God has given us to complete. To be faithful is to be consistent and reliable in our responsibilities. To be continuous despite the trials and problems that may be thrown at us. Can our friends and families rely on us? Our parents should be able to trust us and know that we want to please them.

There are few better examples of faithfulness than the faithfulness of good parents. They love us, provide for us, and continue to care for us even when we are remiss in our faithfulness to them and ignore or neglect the jobs they have assigned to us. It reminds me of Romans 3:3-4. “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged." Parents can show us the attributes of God in the way that they care for and teach us.

Do you know what it is like to have a reliable and faithful friend? Do you have a friend that cares enough about you to continually be there for you, either by writing letters, giving you a phone call, or visiting and talking? I think that is what we all dream of and hope for. I am continually trying to grow in my friendships by demonstrating this behavior, but I know that I often fail to do enough or be consistent in my efforts. God can use our little seeds of faithfulness and make them grow. You can reap faithfulness by planting faithfulness in others.

It is comforting to know that Jesus is always there for us. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is a sure comfort in trouble. Psalms 40:11 says, “As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Friday, April 14, 2006

Complete Victory!

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is an amazing story. Nothing like it had ever happened before, and it will never occur again.

Christ was betrayed by a friend for thirty pieces of silver. False accusations were brought against Him, and He was beaten, spit upon, ridiculed, and deserted. He was killed with common criminals.

This in itself is not too amazing. Other men have been ill treated and killed. But who among the betrayed and tortured have had their death predicted hundreds of years before the actual event? Psalms 22 tells of Christ’s death with such exactness that it could have been written after the death instead of by an ancestor of Jesus hundreds of years before he was even born.

Psalms 22:1 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?"

Matthew 27:46
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Psalms 22:14 "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;"

John 19:34
"But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water."

Psalms 22:16
"For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet."

John 20:25 "So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."

Psalms 22:18
"They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."

John 19:23-24
"When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." So the soldiers did these things,"

Few can foresee their death when it is only days in the future, yet Christ was able to predict not only His execution with exactness but also His resurrection!

Matthew 20:17-19 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day."

Who would presume to prophesy that after three days of death they will no longer be dead but totally and completely alive? Dead people do not do anything, and making yourself alive again is absolutely impossible. Without God, that is. Jesus predicted His resurrection, and He rose from the dead!

This Jesus, who knows the end from the beginning and has the power to do the impossible is worthy of all praise. Jesus suffered and died to save me from the everlasting punishment that I deserved. He rose from the dead to demonstrate his total power and victory over death. His resurrection was necessary to show that His sacrifice was accepted and final. No more payment was needed!

Praise God and celebrate His saving redemption. We are bought, paid for, and made the children of God.

Which is Your Favorite?

We had a great time decorating Easter Eggs with my cousin Michael. Do you prefer Egg 1, Egg 2, or Egg 3?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Study.Quiet

On the 4th of February 1664 or 1665 these arms were granted to Richard Head of Rochester, Esq. Although my ancestry to this man has not been firmly established, it is probable that he was related to my ancestor Henry Head. Henry was born about 1695 and lived in Virginia. I have always thought the family motto was unique and particularly descriptive of the Head family. They were always known as great readers, and that love for books was passed on to me.

I am very impressed by the Head family’s involvement in United States history. Henry Head’s son Benjamin enlisted in the Continental Army on January 24, 1776 and served until the end of the war.

The great grandson of Benjamin Head was John Calhoun Head. At the outbreak of the War for Southern Independence John enlisted as a Confederate soldier defending his homeland against the invaders from the North. His enemies may have included a few of my other ancestors who were Yankees.

John Calhoun Head was my great-great-great-grandfather.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Returning Good for Evil

Goodness is closely related to our actions much the way kindness is. We are to be good to others and show patience, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control. (I love how all the fruit of the Spirit tie in with each other.) This goodness is not limited to our friends but extends to our enemies as well.

In Matthew 5 Jesus commanded the crowds to love their enemies and pray for those who persecuted them. He instructed them to be different from the world. Even the unbelievers love those who love them, but we are to do good to those who have done nothing good for us. This is one of the most uphill struggles that a Christian will face.

When someone “strikes your cheek” the natural reaction is to cut them off, be mean back, or have nothing to do with them in future. Jesus taught us to do the opposite. Luke 6:27-29 says, "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.”

This was imperative for the early Christians, and it is just as important now. Unbelievers should see that there is something different about the followers of Christ. The Holy Spirit can use His fruit in our lives as a reflection of Jesus when bringing sinners to the knowledge of saving grace. There must be some evidence of God’s work in us. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

A Biblical example of returning good for evil would be the story of David and Saul. Saul unfairly judged David and sought to kill him based on jealousy and popularity. Twice when given the chance to take Saul’s life, David resisted. Killing Saul would have given him the kingdom and ensured his own safety, but David left judgment to God.

Another example deals with a strained family relationship. Joseph had to forgive his brothers and provide for them after they sold him into slavery. He suffered for years due to their hatred, and he could have easily repaid their ill use and done the same to them. Joseph was second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. Instead, he forgave and repaid kindness for their cruelty.

We are called to show the same behavior. We may not be the victims of attempted murder and our families have not sold us into slavery (who would they sell us to anyway?), but we may bear the brunt of sarcasm, rebuke, interruptions, slander, and petty acts of spitefulness. Some people are not very likeable, but we should be forgiving and pleasant. Although we should by no means be “run over” or allow needless abuse, we should never act out of revenge or malice.

Again, as always, we must rely upon the Lord’s help. No amount of self analyzing or resolutions for better behavior will do any good for the development of our fruit of the Spirit if we try to do it from our own strength. God alone is perfectly good and able to work His goodness in, and through, our lives.

Picture Note...
My mother chose this picture. She thinks it is very good to receive a bouquet of roses!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:22-26

The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines goodness as being “the state of being good; the physical qualities which constitute value, excellence or perfection.” Also, “the moral qualities which constitute Christian excellence; moral virtue; religion.” It is also closely tied with kindness, benevolence, and mercy.

I looked up the word “good” as well, since goodness is the state of being good. Out of more than 40 definitions number 8 stood out. It means, “sound; perfect; uncorrupted; undamaged.”

Perfect and uncorrupted describe the world as God first created it. At the end of each stage of creation God affirmed its goodness. After the fall of man and the entrance of sin, we no longer had the perfectly good natures that we had before.

Goodness can only be attained now by the grace of the perfect incorruptible Christ who took our sin upon himself. God is good, and this is declared throughout Scripture.

“They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.” Psalms 145:7

“For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!” Zechariah 9:17a

We are now the righteousness of God in Christ, and we are called to goodness. Psalms 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

In Romans 15:14 Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome telling them that he is satisfied with them for the reason that they are full of goodness. We should be full of goodness as well and strive to have Christian excellence and moral virtue. By God’s grace, the goodness that we lost through sin has been restored to us through Jesus Christ’s payment of that sin.

The Lord is good!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Comfort Defying Kindness

God has called us all to kindness. It is a sign that His Spirit is working in us, and every type of personality should demonstrate it in their lives. It is true that some people seem to be more naturally kind than others. They are personable, outgoing, and eager to talk with you or help in any way possible. But others, including myself, struggle with the appearance of kindness. Even when I have kind thoughts, it can be difficult for me to demonstrate it. My timidity can cause me to stand back until the opportunity has past, but when has kindness been measured by our thoughts or intentions? Outside of ourselves, only God knows what we intend, and others can interpret us only by our words and actions.

We are to be shining lights demonstrating the love of God. It is imperative that we make the extra effort to show the fruit of our faith in Christ. When we feel His Spirit directing us to introduce ourselves and talk or offer to do a task that will bring us out of our comfort zone we must be very careful to give full obedience. This is something I am still working on.

At home kindness should be easier. After all, kindness comes from love, and who do we love more than our family? Each place and circumstance has its own temptations however, and it is in the comforts of home that laziness must be fought.

There would seem to be less opportunity to be in unfamiliar and uncomfortable circumstances at home, but even here there are plenty of tasks that bend the boundaries of our comfort. Parents have many responsibilities, and they may not be able to do everything. Children are the arrows that God gave parents to help in furthering their goals and work. For me this has meant calling strangers on business related contacts or doing things that chafe at my withdrawn personality. All this helps to make me more flexible, personable, and kind.

Kindness can be a way of life! This often means doing things we would not have chosen for ourselves, and it always means doing what God has chosen for us. We should be looking for more ways to be like Jesus Christ. He made himself available to the people and healed, comforted, and talked with them. He showed himself to be friendly and kind in most instances. We are witnesses of Jesus to the world, and should demonstrate His kindness.