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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Christian Living

Be Ye Kind One to Another Part 4

Ephesians 4_32

Luke 6: 27-38

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

In my personal Bible, I have this passage highlighted, underlined, boxed out with an outline, and even have stars up at the top and down at the bottom.I do my best to read it every single day at some point. If I fail to actually read it, I try to think about it and meditate on it some. Why you ask? Well, because left unattented and unminded I frankly tend to be a jerk. I tend strongly towards grumpiness, extreme seriousness, being overbearing, and being quite insistent that my way is the only acceptable way.

I am not, however, alone it this matter. In fact, my inspiration to do this came after attending the funeral of one of my favorite Uncles, my Uncle Billy. Now, my Uncle Billy and I were very fond of each other, and he always seemed especially fond of me. The Uncle Billy I know was the kindest, gentlest, and sweetest guy on the planet. Apparently, according to family lore, this was not always the case. According to family lore, provided by his siblings, Billy was just not that nice as a young man. It is reported that this was just not general run of the mill not niceness, but genuine meanness gravitating towards semi cruelty.

But, if you were to ask any person who knew him what they thought about my uncle, the answers would across the board be such: kind, gentle, always willing to lend a helping hand, loves everybody, and on and on.

What happened? First and foremost, I suspect Jesus happened. My uncle was, like everybody in his town, raised in church. At some point, however, he became very serious about his faith. More than that occurred; what we have here is a man who not only believed in God, loved His Word, but took actual measure to implement that Word into his life as a real force.

Like many believers, Uncle Billy had a favorite Bible, one that he had had for years. It was noted up, scribbled in, and underlined in many many places. This passage was one of those places, along with some other notes to himself about the passage in question. Apparently, this scripture changed a man’s life in this case. Of course, God’s word will do that to anybody willing to place in in their hearts, into their lives, and into action.

For the next few days, we will spend some time in this passage, break it down some, and maybe even chase some rabbits. Okay, for sure we will chase some rabbits, because I love to chase rabbits!

See you next time!

Be Ye Kind One to another Part 3

Ephesians 4_32

Being kind is NOT a Suggestion

Jesus had some things to say about being kind. Actually, Jesus had some things to say about loving one another, and being kind to each other would certainly fall under that umbrella. The point here is that kindness is not something we have the right to make a choice about. It is a commandment, period. Jesus said so. Enough said, right?

Matthew 22: 37-40

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

John 13:34

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Love matters to God: a lot. How much does it matter to Him? Well, just read the above passage. Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love God with everything we have. And the second greatest commandment is like it: we are to love our neighbor like we love ourselves.

Jesus didn’t say these two were the biggest suggestions; He said they are the biggest commandments! These aren’t things Jesus would have us do if we don’t mind, or if we agree or if we like it.

We are to love our neighbor just as we love ourselves, which for most of us is fairly completely. God says so. If we choose to NOT love our neighbor, we are basically thumbing our noses in the fact of Almighty God! That is really not a good idea.

That was not the only instance where Jesus made it crystal clear that to love our fellow man is not something He would really, really like us to do, but is a commandment. Jesus feels strongly about the things He has commanded us to do. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” If we love Jesus, if we are one of His, we will strive to do as he says; in our devotional verse we learn that He commands us to love one another.

Isn’t that fairly simple? If we love Jesus, we will love one another.

How did God love us? John 3:16 tells us that:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“The world” is from an obscure Greek word which means “everybody in the world.” Okay, it’s not really obscure; it simply means what it says. The point is, we are to love the world as well. Before anyone gets excited and starts telling me that The Bible says not to love the world, let me define. Loving the world means loving the people of the world, not the things of the world.

Just in case the point was not clear, let’s recap what Jesus had to say about His commandment to love.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

1 John 4:21And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Got all that? Seems pretty clear.

Be Ye Kind One to Another Part 2

Ephesians 4_32

What does it mean to be kind as taught in the Bible? In the English translations  of the Bible, there are many words used that might be considered synonyms for “kind.” So, pinning down exactly what we mean by kindness may take some effort. Here are just some of the words used to describe what we might see as included in the topic of “kindness” : kindness, goodness, mercy, pity, love, grace, favor ,compassion, gentleness, tenderness.

One definition I found read as following

The quality of compassion and generosity, characteristic of God’s dealings towards the weak and poor, and demanded of believers. The kindness is also shown in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ.

Be nice; be kind; show compassion and generosity. We could go deeper into many meanings of this, and maybe we will. I never really know where these series are going until I get there. For now, however, we are going to keep it simple and just deal with kindness by believers as simply being…nice to each other.

So, over the next little bit(who knows how long?) we will take various Bible passages that address this subject and break them down some and talk about them. Enjoy the ride!

Here are some thoughts and questions to ponder as we tackle this subject. Feel free to add your thoughts and perhaps they will become topic for posting.

Who are we to be kind to?

That’s easy. Everybody.

So, I have to be kind to even people I don’t like?

Yes

What if they aren’t kind to me?

Too bad.

What if I am just not kind by nature?

Silly Christian, you have a NEW nature.

Can I just do it if I want to? What if I don’t want to?

Well, it’s not a suggestion, it is a commandment.

Does being kind mean I have to get walked on?

No, not really.

Does turning the other cheek mean I have to stand by and watch a brother or sister be assaulted?

Nope, not at all.

Does being kind mean I never tell the truth? Do I just have to do and say what makes people happy?

Not at all.

Is it okay for me to ever get mad at anybody?

Maybe, depends.

How do I know what I need to do to be kind?

Read the instruction manual. (That’s The Bible)

Who is my best example of kindness to follow?

Duh. Jesus.

Well, that’s a start and I hope the brain wheels are turning. Thoughts? Suggestions? Arguments(Arguments are ok…just be….kind)

See you all Wednesday!

Be Ye Kind One to Another Part 1

Ephesians 4_32

Hi readers. Last week, as perhaps you noticed, I didn’t post my normal morning posts. I had been writing on Zacchaeus, and thought I might continue, but honestly that train of thought has derailed. I would still like to write more about my Israel trip, but that has slightly fallen off of the tracks as well. The writing train is still wobbly on the tracks, so I am going to rework and republish some things I did on Christian kindness a while back, and I hope you find them useful!

Today, there is no real lesson, just some scriptures I have found I think are applicable to the whole topic of Christian kindness. If you have one of more favorites, feel free to add them!

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Galatians 5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 

Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Proverbs 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:

Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Acts 28:2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

Feel free to share your favorite!

Faith In Action-Righteous Prayers

faith in action

James 5:15-20

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Here things seemingly get complicated. What does sin, faith, and Elijah all have to do with any of this? Well, here go my thoughts for what they are worth.

Why are they praying about this man’s sin? Maybe he is sick because he sinned. I don’t know. Even if this man’s sin had not made him sick, we all know one important thing: sin is an impediment to our prayers to God. Even if our malady is not caused by sin, it is simply a good practice to seek forgiveness for our sins before talking to God. Even though we may be forgiven the penalty for our sin, the presence of unresolved sins in our lives still hinders our fellowship with God.

It is important that we pray with the full faith that God will, in fact, answer our prayer. If we pray without granting God ultimate power to accomplish anything He wants to, we should not expect answers.

We have to pray in God’ will. This may be an illustration again of the presence of the Elders in the life of this ailing person. How do we learn God’s will? A knowledge of God’s will is a learned thing. We come to understand it through prayer, study, and meditation. Certainly a case could be made that the prayers of the Elders, while not necessarily more effective than the prayers of other believers, might be grounded in a better understanding of what God’s will might be in a situation.

If there was ever a many tuned into the will of God, Elijah would have been one. I can only imagine this great man of God, praying for the rain with great faith and great understanding of what God was trying to accomplish. Elijah prayed that a drought be ended and the rains given, and it happened! Clearly, Elijah was both fervent and effectual in his prayer, and his prayer was answered.


Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Finally, James closes his Epistle in a way we would certainly expect. The entire theme of James’ writing has been about the demonstration of true, saving faith. James has attempted to teach us that while what we do never saves us, what we do certainly provides the evidence and reality of our salvation. Who is the warning in the last few verses intended for? Given the overall tone of James’ writing, I think this is a warning to those who may be backsliding into a life of sin. He has spent an entire book warning what true faith looks like, so this seems to fit.

We certainly have a responsibility to an erring brother or sister, and it may be as important as our responsibility to win the lost.

Blessings and hope that you have enjoyed our trip through the Book of James.

Faith In Action-Who’s Doing the Healing? And What’s With the Oil?

faith in action

James 5:14-16

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Given the likely timing of this Epistle, it is very possible that the gifts of healing were still widespread and common at the time of its writing. That would make it possible that the Elders were to be called for the simple reason that they had been gifted with special powers to heal on The Lord’s behalf. Given that the sign gifts were primarily designed to establish the authority of the representatives of Jesus on the Earth and not simply for the sheer sake of healing itself, I don’t see that to be the case here; however, I certainly don’t dismiss it either.

Let is have a look at some issues and questions. Is this person sick because they don’t have enough faith for their prayers to have an effect? I would disagree totally with that and further say the telling anyone they are not healed because of their lack of faith is quite damaging. Is the healing discussed because of the extraordinary faith of the elders? I say no on that one as well.

We discussed earlier the fact that God has never stopped being God. He can do anything, at anytime, and that would include things which might be considered miracles to us. But the key point is: Who did it? Well, God of course. That has always been the case, and is the case even if He uses a representative to do it. It has always been, and always will be, God doing the healing and not man.

So, what is with the oil anyway? Some things to quickly note here. The anointing is being done in the ailing person’s home, and not with the congregation. So James is not trying to teach us that anointing with oil is some rite or ritual we are to practice. Really, its seems far simpler than all of that. Applying oil to the sick was simply part of what was, at the time, modern medical treatment. It is more or less what we should do today if we are sick: see a doctor and pray for God to heal!

Thoughts anyone?

Faith In Action-Why Call the Elders?

faith in action

James 5:14,15

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Previously we discussed the idea of an afflicted or ill person bearing some responsibility for getting him or herself assistance when they need it; they are to call the elders, and furthermore the elders are to respond.

This is not the place to discuss the particulars of who the elders of any particular church are, or exactly what the word represents. Elders, deacons, pastors: the name used matters not nearly so much as what they represent.

Some might say the reason for calling the elders is because they have some special authority granted to have a special pipeline to God for the healing the sick. I personally don’t see this as being the case, now allow me to explain. Regardless of how we see the definition of the name elder, it is evident that the word is being used to represent those in the church who are spiritually mature and full of Godly wisdom. The question, then, becomes why that matters!

Why is this person sick? We don’t see the answer in concrete, but we can see some possibilities from context. We have been discussing the trials and pressures place on those who live the Christian life. Perhaps this person was not so much sick as simply exhausted and worn out from the trials. Perhaps they are just wearied in their Christian life to the point where they have become ill. Who better then to provide comfort and guidance on how to recover from this malady than those who are mature and may have lived these very issues themselves.

It may be possible that this illness has come about as a result of some sin. Does our sin always result in illness? Absolutely not. Can our sin result in illness? Absolutely. Do we know that this is happening here? Not really. But, if sin is a factor, then perhaps what we see here is simply some church discipline going on. If not, then still who better to help a believer work through an issue such as this than those who are more mature and experienced?

Isn’t this simple thought true in all of our lives? The Christian walk can be a tough one at times, and may take us to  the point of exhaustion and even illness. Some may be new and unseasoned believers when exposed to all of this. Rather than just suffering in silence and perhaps falling away, we should seek those who can help us. Those of who are blessed with wisdom and experience should be ready always to help those who need it.

Faith In Action-Sick? Call for Help

faith in action

James 5:14

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Have you ever noticed that your pastor is a very busy man? Most are. Have you ever seen or heard a situation where a person got their feelings hurt because they felt ignored when a need presented itself?

We don’t necessarily see just why the person in this passage is sick. As with most of this passage, there is more than substantial discussion about it. He may be simply sick. It may be that the trials and persecutions discussed previously have worn the person down to the point that they have become sick. They may even be sick as a result of sin.

They whys of the sickness don’t really matter as much as the reaction. Note here one very important thought, and the answer to this question: Who called for the elders? Correct, the person suffering the illness called. Why does that matter?

It matters because our Pastors, Elders/Deacons, cannot be all places at all times, nor are they all knowing. We certainly bear some responsibility to communicate our needs to our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a shame to be suffering from some great need and it not be met simply because nobody knew

Additionally, look at the reaction once a summons is made. The elders come; they respond to this expressed need. People gather to meet the need once it has been expressed.

This may not be the primary point of this passage, but it is certainly one we can make. We are to be there for each other. We should communicate our needs to those who can help us. If we are not the suffering ones, we should pray for, assist, and uplift those among us who are in need, whether physical or emotional.

Faith In Action-Ups and Downs

faith in action

James 5:13

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

During most of James Chapter 5 we have been dealing with some issues involving how we deal with and react in particular situations. We have discussed how we react to being rich and how we react to being poor. We have discussed reaction in terms of patience when confronted with the various trials and tribulations we may face to include interpersonal conflicts.

Even though there is some discussion about illness, faith, anointing and prayer in the section that follows I have, after substantial study and reflection, come to the opinion that this section is probably not about healing per se, but guidance on practical ways to deal with the issues of life. I am not saying healing does not occur, just that I don’t think that is what is being covered here as the main point. Overall, I think this fits with the practical nature of James’ Epistle.

Actually, the word affliction as used here has nothing to do with physical sickness at all, but more along the lines of. “suffering in difficult circumstances, ” or “in trouble.”  This ties our verse in quite nicely with the passages before and in my thoughts, ties it in with the ones to follow as well.

This seems to be a clear lesson. God wants to communicate with us; specifically,  He wants us to communicate with Him! Life will have its ups and downs; sometimes things will go our way, and sometimes we will be troubled, or afflicted. When we are in trouble God wants us to turn to Him in prayer. When life is great, God wants us to thank Him for it.

Do we do that? Is God our first resort when things head in a direction we don’t like or is He our last resort after we have exhausted all or our human resources? When life is great, who gets the credit? Do we pat ourselves in the back for a job well done or do we thank the true source of our many blessings?

David Jeremiah captures the essence of this well by saying, “We have a God for all seasons “(from What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do) He then goes on to quote the following from his own readings (from Alec Motyer, The Message of James.)

“Both in periods of suffering and trouble, and in times of joy, prayer and praise alike acknowledge that He is sufficient. To pray to Him is to acknowledge His sovereign power in appointing our circumstances. Whether as the source of supply in need, or the source of gladness or our joy, God is our sufficiency.”

And finally, the chorus from a favorite song of mine really captures the essence very well. From the song, God On the Mountain.

For the God on the mountain, is the God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He’ll make them right.
And the God of the good times
is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.

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