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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Bible

Little Things With Big Impact

We are interrupting our Follow Me!, series for this special broadcast.

That picture, up there in the featured image, is my yesterday; unfortunately, that is MY arm! I am 57 years old, and yesterday I had my first ever IV. This little bugger right here was the culprit, 2.5 mm of sheer terror:wp-15658818149857969425099092789215.jpg

That sucker is a kidney stone. I have only ever had two, and yesterday was the 2d one. All I can say is that for such a little bitty thing, they cause pain way out of proportion to their size. Praise God in that each time I have had one, it has passed with amazing speed; I hear of people taking days to pass one. They doped me up, flushed me out, and voila…there it was!

It may sound shocking that such a little thing can cause so much grief. Yet, if we read God’s Word, that should not shock us at all. In fact, James wrote some things in his Epistle concerning very small things that can wreak havoc, and I thought the illustration fit rather well. None of this is new, as I have posted it all before; but it came to mind as I lay on that exam table in the emergency room yesterday.

Read James Chapter 3 here

“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.” James 3:1-4

James apparently had strong feelings about the role of the tongue, or the words we speak, in the life of the believer.  He actually mentions it in every single chapter of his book, in fact. He mentions it in the following passages: 1:19,26; 2:12; 3:5,6,8; 4:11; and 5:12.

Reading what James has to say about our speech and we can see the idea of the tongue not only being the reflection of what is in our hearts, but also representative of the depravity of our nature.

Also, since James’ primary objective with his Epistle seems to be to teach believers how to behave, it follows in line that one of his lessons here is that the ability to control one’s tongue is a mark of a mature believer.

Let’s just take a look at some of the thoughts God shared with us regarding the tongue in His Word..

When Paul was illustrating to us all our fallen condition, in Romans 3:13-15, he listed 5 organs of the body which are common vehicles for sin: throat, tongue, lips, mouth and feet. It seems very significant that four of the five have to do with our speech!

Some of the most Godly men in the Bible had issues holding their tongues, as well; Moses (Psalms 106:32-33), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5,7), and Job (Job 40:4) all had tongue issues at some point.

The tongue is described using many words in Scripture: wicked, deceitful, perverse, filthy, corrupt, flattering, slanderous, gossiping, blasphemous, foolish, boasting, and many others.

Jesus even had thoughts about our tongues

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:36,37

Our words are similar to a sound wave broadcast into the air. Eventually, that sound wave will reach the far parts of space in a never-ending journey; not only that but the trip cannot be canceled. Once that sound wave or our words start their journey, they cannot be brought back to the source and packed away.

What do our words say about our walk with Christ? If our words are a reflection of our heart, then what do we reveal about our heart when we speak?

Also here James is teaching the point that one of the ways we illustrate Christian maturity is by learning to control our tongue.

This seems rather like the two greatest commandments, the ones given by Jesus to the questioning Scribe in Matthew Chapter 22:35-40. When the scribe was attempting to trip Jesus up by pinning Him down to stating one commandment as more weighty than another, Jesus neatly rolled them all up in two simple directives: Love God above all else, and love one’s neighbor as oneself. The reason He did this was to show that by doing these two things, all other requirements would naturally follow as an outflow.

The tongue is like that. We can see in Verse 2 of our passage James stating that if a man can learn to control his tongue, he can control his entire body. James doesn’t seem to mean this in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense regarding the whole of our behavior. In other words, if what issues from our mouth tends to be God-honoring and God-exalting, then likely the rest of our behavior will be as well. Then he moves on to show two very clear examples of the smallest of things exercising the greatest of control.

The first example is that of a horse. It’s quite amazing, really that an animal weighing in at over a half a ton can be easily controlled by a 100-pound rider simply through a tiny metal bit in their mouth. Likewise, the direction and course of a large ship can be controlled by no more than a small rudder which is only a fraction of the size of the ship.

Our tongues and our speech are like the bit or the rudder. They are only a small part of us physically, but they can and do turn us in whatever direction they point. If our speech is Christlike, then we will be likewise Christlike. If our speech is the opposite, then our behavior will be as well.

I actually have more I could say on this, but I know everybody starts fading out if there are too many words…so I’m out for now. FYI, I’m back to normal now. Stones come in fast and leave just about as fast. Be blessed.

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Follow Me-A Priest Gets Ready to Go

Ezra 7:6-10

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him. And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Ezra 7-10

As various Persian Kings granted the authority to do so, various groups of Jews who had been in the Babylonian Captivity began returning to Jerusalem to re-establish the thing which had been destroyed during the conquest some 70 years before. There were three waves of returnees. Wave one was the group led by Zerubbabel, who returned to rebuild the Temple. The third was the wave led by Nehemiah, who returned to rebuild the city wall of Jerusalem and the city itself. The second wave was led by Ezra and was going to rebuild nothing which was physical. Ezra’s mission was to restore and rebuild the newly free nation spiritually. He was to teach all the things of the law and restore Israel to proper worship of their God.

Clearly, Ezra was called for this mission, and clearly, God saw the need for a man to return to Jerusalem to accomplish it. Why is this clear? Well, twice in the above passage we are told that the hand of God was upon Ezra. This leaves little doubt as to his calling and the need for Ezra to answer. So, some 60 years after the Temple was completed, Ezra headed that direction as commanded. So, what quick lessons can we glean here?

First, Ezra went. That seems self-evident, but it isn’t really; men and women decline to answer the call of God in their lives all the time. While Ezra was probably a strong, intelligent and competent person, it is God’s call and hand in it which ultimately enabled Him to succeed in his mission. God will give us all we need to do His will; the only thing He won’t provide is the willingness on our part. So, had he not been willing, then this post would have been about somebody else.

The need for spiritual instruction and restoration is as real to Christians today as it was to the Jews in that day. The need for men willing to step forth boldly and accomplish that is also as real today as it was then. There is something else we who are called should have in common with Ezra:

Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Friends, that right there sets the standard for all who are called to be teachers of God’s Word to others. If we approach it any other way, then we are not performing to standard. Anything less and we are half stepping.

Ezra prepared his heart. Being a teacher of faith to others is not an accident. We have to be prepared spiritually. This will require much prayer, study and meditation on both the Scriptures and about God’s desires.

What did Ezra prepare his heart to do? He prepared it to seek the law of the Lord. Nothing has changed here, only we seek the knowledge of God’s completed canon of Scripture. If we are attempting to be teachers and are not striving to be as knowledgeable of our teaching as possible then, again, we are half stepping.

Ezra strove to do it. We can’t learn God’s Word until we study it, but once we know it, we should attempt to live it. Can any of us live it perfectly? Of course not. We won’t see perfection until we see heaven. Here is a tough word, teacher friends. If we aren’t at least trying to live God’s Word, we aren’t ready; in fact, if we ignore, openly rebel, or turn a blind eye to disobedience around us we simply should not be leaders or teachers. This is worse than half stepping.

On after Ezra learned God’s Word did he try to live it. Only after he lived it did he try to teach it. He had two things: God’s hand on him, and his own willing and prepared heart.

Friends, the Israelites deserved this from the man who was to teach them God’s law, and those we are responsible for deserve it from us.

Follow Me-A Priest Follows God Not Man

Ezra 10:2,3

 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

Ezra 9 and 10

Men of God, if you want your feelings stroked, stop reading now; continue and you might get your feelings hurt.

For many, Ezra 9 and 10 are problematic. In summary, some of the Jewish men, after returning to Jerusalem from captivity had taken pagan wives, and their sons and daughters had likewise taken pagan spouses. In a nutshell, God directed Ezra to deliver the news that these men were to all put away, or divorce their pagan wives and send them and the children of those unions away. We won’t belabor this issue here, just remember friends that, while God doesn’t change, He may change how he deals with His children at different times in their lives just as any Father might.

What had happened here was extremely serious. It was things like this, among many others, which had been the cause for the exile and captivity in the first place! Full restoration to the Law of God was not going to be possible in the face of such pagan influences in the congregation, and quick decisive action was needed. The tailspin this was going to cause had to be reversed.

There is a little known man in this story who responded in an epic way. Actually, it wasn’t really epic; this is exactly how all men of God should respond when faced with a choice like he had.

The priest Shechaniah, as we can see above, did not hesitate to come on board with God’s plan here; after all, he personally was not guilty of the problem offense. But, wait, there’s more! This man may have not been personally guilty, but a perusal of the genealogy of the offenders at the end of Chapter 10 reveals something interesting; his father and five of his paternal uncle WERE guilty. Ouch, right? This is almost an unimaginable situation, and the pain of standing on God’s Word must have been very real. Yet, Shechaniah did just that

As we covered earlier, this was a situation that was very dangerous. This mixing with the pagan world, and ignoring open, notorious sin and willful rebellion were very dangerous. In fact, there was little doubt that eventually, it would cause the undoing of the nation of Israel yet again. God will NEVER bless rebellion and disobedience. Open sin, rebellion and willful disobedience are like cancer that destroys a congregation from the inside, and decisive often painful treatment is required.

Friends, there is nothing new under the sun. Nothing has changed. Open sin, rebellion and willful disobedience are still like cancer. Today, these things will kill a New Testament church. The patient may linger, as we provide treatments that prolong the illness, but offer no cure. Without the proper, quick and decisive treatment needed, the patient(the church,) will finally die. That’s grim, isn’t it?

It need not be though, friends. When we see this around us what will we do? Will we ignore it, turn our head and pretend nothing is wrong? Worse, will we celebrate it and react with joy? Hey! Awesome sin, way to go! God forbid anybody construes this as some legalistic, judgmental tirade because it is not. Yet, some things are simply wrong, and when we ignore them, the impact is huge. God won’t bless that, we look like hypocrites, and the list goes on.

Where is Shechaniah when we need him? Who will stand with God even when it hurts? Who will stand with God even when it means turning our backs so to speak, on those we love? Who will stand with God even if we have to stand alone? Who will stand with God even when it hurts our pocketbook? This man Shechaniah provided his answer by his actions.

Godly leadership must act; we cannot stick our heads in the sand. When we do, we are more guilty than the offender.

What is OUR answer? We have been warned.

 

 

Bogard Press Daily Devotional-Mordecai’s Past Faithfulness Saves Him

by Beverly Barnett

Saturday, May 4

Mordecai’s Past Faithfulness Saves Him

Esther 6; 7

“And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour,” Esther 6:7.

Today we must start at the beginning of this chapter and remember that Mordecai had overheard a plot to kill the king, reported it to Esther to tell the king, and she in turn gave Mordecai the credit for foiling the plot. Busy kings often forget to reward the good deeds that some do, but the evil deeds are quickly punished.

Nevertheless, one night the king could not sleep. He called for the royal chronicles to be brought and read. In the reading, he found that Mordecai had never been rewarded for reporting the dangerous plot of Bigthan and Teresh. The king’s trusted prime minister Haman, waited in the courtyard for the opportunity to speak to the king about another matter—the matter of hanging Mordecai.

The king asked for Haman’s opinion on what to do to reward a person for his great deeds of service to the kingdom. Haman assumed the king wanted to reward him, so he proceeded to give in great detail how such a person should be honored. The only problem was that the king was speaking of rewarding Mordecai, Haman’s enemy, not Haman.

REFLECTION: “For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out” (Proverbs 24:20).

Follow Me-A Priest Gets Ready to Go

Ezra 7:6-10

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him. And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Ezra 7-10

As various Persian Kings granted the authority to do so, various groups of Jews who had been in the Babylonian Captivity began returning to Jerusalem to re-establish the thing which had been destroyed during the conquest some 70 years before. There were three waves of returnees. Wave one was the group led by Zerubbabel, who returned to rebuild the Temple. The third was the wave led by Nehemiah, who returned to rebuild the city wall of Jerusalem and the city itself. The second wave was led by Ezra and was going to rebuild nothing which was physical. Ezra’s mission was to restore and rebuild the newly free nation spiritually. He was to teach all the things of the law and restore Israel to proper worship of their God.

Clearly, Ezra was called for this mission, and clearly, God saw the need for a man to return to Jerusalem to accomplish it. Why is this clear? Well, twice in the above passage we are told that the hand of God was upon Ezra. This leaves little doubt as to his calling and the need for Ezra to answer. So, some 60 years after the Temple was completed, Ezra headed that direction as commanded. So, what quick lessons can we glean here?

First, Ezra went. That seems self-evident, but it isn’t really; men and women decline to answer the call of God in their lives all the time. While Ezra was probably a strong, intelligent and competent person, it is God’s call and hand in it which ultimately enabled Him to succeed in his mission. God will give us all we need to do His will; the only thing He won’t provide is the willingness on our part. So, had he not been willing, then this post would have been about somebody else.

The need for spiritual instruction and restoration is as real to Christians today as it was to the Jews in that day. The need for men willing to step forth boldly and accomplish that is also as real today as it was then. There is something else we who are called should have in common with Ezra:

Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Friends, that right there sets the standard for all who are called to be teachers of God’s Word to others. If we approach it any other way, then we are not performing to standard. Anything less and we are half stepping.

Ezra prepared his heart. Being a teacher of faith to others is not an accident. We have to be prepared spiritually. This will require much prayer, study and meditation on both the Scriptures and about God’s desires.

What did Ezra prepare his heart to do? He prepared it to seek the law of the Lord. Nothing has changed here, only we seek the knowledge of God’s completed canon of Scripture. If we are attempting to be teachers and are not striving to be as knowledgeable of our teaching as possible then, again, we are half stepping.

Ezra strove to do it. We can’t learn God’s Word until we study it, but once we know it, we should attempt to live it. Can any of us live it perfectly? Of course not. We won’t see perfection until we see heaven. Here is a tough word, teacher friends. If we aren’t at least trying to live God’s Word, we aren’t ready; in fact, if we ignore, openly rebel, or turn a blind eye to disobedience around us we simply should not be leaders or teachers. This is worse than half stepping.

On after Ezra learned God’s Word did he try to live it. Only after he lived it did he try to teach it. He had two things: God’s hand on him, and his own willing and prepared heart.

Friends, the Israelites deserved this from the man who was to teach them God’s law, and those we are responsible for deserve it from us.

Follow Me-A Priest Follows God Not Man

Ezra 10:2,3

 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

Ezra 9 and 10

Men of God, if you want your feelings stroked, stop reading now; continue and you might get your feelings hurt.

For many, Ezra 9 and 10 are problematic. In summary, some of the Jewish men, after returning to Jerusalem from captivity had taken pagan wives, and their sons and daughters had likewise taken pagan spouses. In a nutshell, God directed Ezra to deliver the news that these men were to all put away, or divorce their pagan wives and send them and the children of those unions away. We won’t belabor this issue here, just remember friends that, while God doesn’t change, He may change how he deals with His children at different times in their lives just as any Father might.

What had happened here was extremely serious. It was things like this, among many others, which had been the cause for the exile and captivity in the first place! Full restoration to the Law of God was not going to be possible in the face of such pagan influences in the congregation, and quick decisive action was needed. The tailspin this was going to cause had to be reversed.

There is a little known man in this story who responded in an epic way. Actually, it wasn’t really epic; this is exactly how all men of God should respond when faced with a choice like he had.

The priest Shechaniah, as we can see above, did not hesitate to come on board with God’s plan here; after all, he personally was not guilty of the problem offense. But, wait, there’s more! This man may have not been personally guilty, but a perusal of the genealogy of the offenders at the end of Chapter 10 reveals something interesting; his father and five of his paternal uncle WERE guilty. Ouch, right? This is almost an unimaginable situation, and the pain of standing on God’s Word must have been very real. Yet, Shechaniah did just that

As we covered earlier, this was a situation that was very dangerous. This mixing with the pagan world, and ignoring open, notorious sin and willful rebellion were very dangerous. In fact, there was little doubt that eventually, it would cause the undoing of the nation of Israel yet again. God will NEVER bless rebellion and disobedience. Open sin, rebellion and willful disobedience are like cancer that destroys a congregation from the inside, and decisive often painful treatment is required.

Friends, there is nothing new under the sun. Nothing has changed. Open sin, rebellion and willful disobedience are still like cancer. Today, these things will kill a New Testament church. The patient may linger, as we provide treatments that prolong the illness, but offer no cure. Without the proper, quick and decisive treatment needed, the patient(the church,) will finally die. That’s grim, isn’t it?

It need not be though, friends. When we see this around us what will we do? Will we ignore it, turn our head and pretend nothing is wrong? Worse, will we celebrate it and react with joy? Hey! Awesome sin, way to go! God forbid anybody construes this as some legalistic, judgmental tirade because it is not. Yet, some things are simply wrong, and when we ignore them, the impact is huge. God won’t bless that, we look like hypocrites, and the list goes on.

Where is Shechaniah when we need him? Who will stand with God even when it hurts? Who will stand with God even when it means turning our backs so to speak, on those we love? Who will stand with God even if we have to stand alone? Who will stand with God even when it hurts our pocketbook? This man Shechaniah provided his answer by his actions.

Godly leadership must act; we cannot stick our heads in the sand. When we do, we are more guilty than the offender.

What is OUR answer? We have been warned.

 

 

Just a Thought

If we are patient to do God’s will, He will take our weakness and give us His strength


Isaiah 40:31 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Bogard Press Daily Devotional-Judas Betrays Jesus

by Robert Brock

Judas Betrays Jesus

Mark 14:43-52

“And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely,” Mark 14:44.

In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Caesar’s close friend, Marcus Brutus, helped the Roman senate stab the dictator to death. Caesar looked Brutus in the eyes and said, “Et tu, Brute” (you too Brutus?). Jesus looked Judas in the eyes and said, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” (Matthew 26:50).

Judas went on all the mission trips; he was trusted as finance officer of the first church and carried the purse. None of the other apostles doubted Judas’ integrity or loyalty. When he left the last Passover meal, the eleven thought he went to give alms to the poor. Actually, he went to betray Jesus to the Pharisees for the price of a servant.

In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door.” Judas kissed the door to Heaven and went to hell. How close to salvation can one get and still miss the mark? “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). In Matthew 13, Jesus taught that Satan would plant tares among the wheat. Tares are weeds that look like real wheat but are empty. Peter said in Acts 1 that Judas had taken his own life.

THOUGHT: We must make sure we do not sell out Jesus 
for much less than Judas did—a TV show, a few extra hours of extra sleep—while our pew remains empty.

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Just a Thought

God doesn’t give us a blank check for superhuman strength to do whatever WE want, but He will always provide what we need to do what HE wants.


Philippians 4:13 

 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

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