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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Service

Are We Really Too Busy?

How does God feel about Bible reading? Well, here are a few verses which place it pretty high on God’s priority list for Christian lives:

2 Timothy 3:16,17 God Himself literally “breathed out” every single word of Scripture and it is the only guide to faith we need.

Psalm 119:160 God’s Word is true and will last forever.

Matthew 4:4 God’s word is necessary for life, more so than literal bread.

Joshua 1:8 One of the greatest men of the Bible teaches us that if we meditate on God’s Word day and night, we will be rewarded.

2 Timothy 2:15 Here we are simply commanded to study God’s Word and why.

There are many, many more; in combination they clearly prove that God considers the daily reading, studying and meditating on His Word as something He wants Christians to do. To even try to debate that point would be beyond ludicrous, to tell the truth. So, everything in this post is written from that perspective. Why do I say that? Well, because some of what I say might seem to be inflexible to some readers; however, God’s own word teaches that He is pretty inflexible on that point Himself. Agreeing with God on areas He considers important is good policy, frankly.

So, then, just what is our problem? Here is some interesting data:

A couple of years ago, LifeWay Research released a study with some interesting findings.

The survey found 90 percent of churchgoers agree “I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do,” and 59 percent agree with the statement: “Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths.” While the majority agree with both statements, there is a significant difference in the strength of agreement. Nearly two-thirds of churchgoers (64 percent) strongly agree with the first statement, but only 20 percent strongly agree with the second.

However, when asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond “Every Day” (19 percent) as respond “Rarely/Never” (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible “Once a Week” and another 22 percent say “Once a Month” or “A Few Times a Month.” See the article here.

Here is some date from the American Bible Society:

If they do read it, the majority (57 percent) only read their Bibles four times a year or less. Only 26 percent of Americans said they read their Bible on a regular basis (four or more times a week). Read the article here.

So, again I ask, what’s our problem? We know what the problem is; I should have asked: What’s our excuse? Today, we are only talking about the, “I don’t have time” excuse. Here are some strategies that might be of some use for those readers really interested in getting with God’s program of daily time in His Word. For those NOT really interested, just move along I guess, as this won’t apply to you.

Commit to it. Our walk of faith is not accidental; it must be intentional. Remember Daniel? Early in his life Daniel and some friends were faced with a test of their faith. Most Christians know the story of Daniel and his friends refusing to eat the King’s meat. Daniel 1:8 tells us that Daniel “purposed in his heart” not to eat the meat offered by The King. The application here is that, for anything we want to accomplish for and through God, we still have to make an intentional decision to actually do it. Any talk of some daily study plan is irrelevant if we aren’t committed to doing it.

Make choices. The truth is, there are only 24 hours in a day; that is just a fact and a reality. We all make choices daily about the things we get to do or do not get to do. In some cases, it may be as simple as deciding which TV show to watch. We can’t watch two at once, so we choose. Do we go to this party or that party? The list goes on and on. We choose to not do things because of time every single day.

How do we decide? We decide based on what is important to us; we decide on based on what matters to us; we decide based on what will bring us the most payoff and once again the list goes on and on. Because we have committed to some things, choosing them becomes quite easy. The same is true for daily Bible study; if we commit to it, then we have to make the choice of what NOT to do to make room for it.

Pick a time; make it a habit. How many things do we have a time assigned at which we do it? Once again, television comes to mind. I know people who would no more miss Monday Night Football than they would skip eating for a week. What about work? Most of us have a particular time we have to report in. The point is, we have a time at which we do those things. That time belongs to those things, and because of that we do them. They are habits.

The time doesn’t matter; pick what works. But do pick, and assign that time and don’t allow another thing to infringe or take that time. I like really early in the morning. It’s all mine, as nobody else is awake then. It’s quiet, as nobody else is awake then. It also happens to be the time of day when I am freshest and most able to concentrate. It is my most effective time of the day, and I feel God deserves my best time. And that’s not just my opinion, I got it from God, who has made many references to us giving Him our firstfruits in His Word. Get a Concordance and check out firstfruits if you don’t believe me.

Now, let’s sum up. The sign said, “If you’re too busy to read the Bible, you’re too busy.” That is simply true and non-negotiable. I say non-negotiable because that is how God sees it, and that seals it. I can cook up justification otherwise until the day ends, and I would simply be wrong. And guess what? If you do that, you are wrong as well.

So, commit to it, make choices, pick your time and begin a new habit that I promise will transform your Christian walk.

The Top 5 Reasons We Should Be in Church Sunday(And the Top 5 Lousy Excuses Why We Won’t)

This is one that has run on Sunday mornings before, and probably will again.

To say that the act of worshiping God in church on Sundays has become less popular over the years would be an understatement. On any given Sunday, on a good day, perhaps half of the people who claim membership in any given church will be present for Sunday morning worship. If you happen to be around Sunday night or Wednesday night, the number is even more drastically reduced.

Where is everybody? It seems that everyone has a million good reasons why they don’t attend church, so we cannot even begin to list them all here. For today’s article, we are going to cover some really good reasons why we should be in Church Sunday morning, and then we will cover and rebut some of our lousy excuses for not going.

Reasons to Come To Church Sunday

  1. Because God said so. That’s pretty simple, right? Rather like your parents telling you “Because I said so!” when you questioned them. Only in this case, it is the Creator of the Universe saying so, which carries a lot of weight. In fact, ignoring what God clearly tells us to do is a very risky proposition to be honest. Hebrews 10:25 is the clearest, most up front message from God concerning how He feels about us meeting for worship. There, Paul was inspired to tell us about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” In other words, don’t skip church, like some people do!
  2. It’s what Jesus did. We talk often about becoming Christlike, which means we are to strive to be like Jesus. Well, Jesus attended church regularly. In Luke 4:16 we are taught that Jesus attended worship regularly in the Synagogue.  The believers in the early church certainly followed Jesus’ example, as we see in Acts 2:42: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers
  3. We need to go to church and bring our lost family and friends with us. Primarily here I am speaking to saved persons who have unsaved family members around who would go to church if they did. What I am about to say may sound harsh, but it is true.  If we are saved, how can we stand idly by while our children, husbands or wives drift off into an eternity separated from God in Hell? If we understand what salvation did for us, and the consequences of not being saved, one would think we would literally drag those people to church with us. An observer might question our love for our unsaved family members when we allow this to happen. It might even be a sign that we might do a salvation check of our own if we so lack understanding of what salvation means that we don’t bring our unsaved family to hear the Gospel.
  4. It helps us grow. Of course, we can read, study and meditate on God’s word outside of church, and we should.  But there is nowhere we can get as much good Bible study poured on us in so short a time as we can at Sunday School and Church.  There, we are given the gift of Preachers and Teachers who have spent substantial time preparing just to provide the rest of us maximum learning and growth in the minimum amount of time.  What they give us in perhaps a half hour would take us hours to study ourselves.
  5. We can fellowship with other believers. Really, fellow Christians are the people we should have the closest relationships with. God actually tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Not that we should turn our backs on non believing friends, but our primary relationships should be with fellow believers. And, obviously, the best place to be with other believers is in Church. Why would we make a conscious decision to NOT be with people who will love, encourage and support us?

Our Lousy Reasons for Not Going to Church

Okay, let me just say all reasons for not going to Church are lousy; that is just how I feel and what I believe God’s Word teaches.

  1. “I can worship God just fine in my fishing boat.” (or golf course, ball game or even my Sunday drive. No, actually, you can’t. To be cliche, we can’t truly worship God in a fishing boat anymore than we can fish in a Church house. Church is primarily for worship of our God. And worship is not worship if it is shared with anything else.  Trying to worship in a fishing boat would only be a lot of fishing with some vague thoughts about God tossed in.  The Bible teaches us that God is a jealous God; He wants all of us, not just a leftover. How are we to love God? Matthew 22:37 tells us to”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind
  2. “The church if full of hypocrites.” Yes it is and there is room for one more.  That’s between them and God, not you and them. That’s like saying, “I’m not going to the gym because there are too many out of shape people there,” or “I won’t go to a doctor, there are too many sick people there!”
  3. “Those people are worse than me anyway!” See the last point. That is between them and God, not them and you. We are judged by God’s standard only for ourselves. We are not judged in comparison to any other person.
  4. “They just want my money!”. Who doesn’t?. Not to be flip, but anything we involve ourselves in is trying to get in our wallets; why don’t we stop doing all of those things? God doesn’t need our money; actually it’s all His anyway. If we have it, it is only because He gave it to us. We are merely His stewards of what He gives us. God’s work, however, does take financial support. So, yes, occasionally we may be reminded about what the Bible says about giving to support the work of the Lord. Sadly, some greedy TV preachers have made all churches appear corrupt. Your giving, however, is between you and God; it is not between you and where you go to church. If that’s not true,  find a church where it is true.
  5. “Sunday is my day off and I like to sleep in and just rest.” You know, Jesus got up early one Sunday morning about 2000 years ago. Only, He didn’t wake up from bed, HE WOKE UP FROM BEING DEAD! Had that not happened, where would we all either be or headed? Without the Resurrection, our salvation would be incomplete and eternity in Hell would be our only option. I can promise you from personal experience, if you give God His day even on your day off, He will give you all the rest you need.

We could go on and on for pages with many more good reasons we should attend church regularly; we could do the same with the myriad reasons we do not attend church regularly.  These are just some of the bigger reasons for going and bigger excuses for not going.

It’s very early Sunday morning; what are you doing today? Do you belong to a church somewhere? They would love to see you there; God would love to see you there. Feeling stressed and need encouragement? There is plenty to be found through those doors. Lay aside all your reasons and we’ll see you in the morning!

Carrying Your Tent Peg

tabernacle

Numbers 4:29-33
As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers;
From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,
And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.
This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

 

Numbers 4:1-4
And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,
From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:

 

Just some brief data about the Tabernacle here:

  • External Courtyard 150 x 75 feet. Outer walls 7 feet high.
  • Tabernacle tent itself. 45 x 15 feet, covered by an external tent structure.
  • Made of animal skins, ropes, poles and pegs, really a huge tent.
  • The Israelites were led by the Shekinah Cloud of Glory by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the cloud or pillar moved, so did the camp
  • It would have taken many wagons, oxen, and men to move all of the different parts of the Tabernacle, and God as was His habit, specifically assigned duties to different people. They did not simply pick and choose who did what, God assigned it.

 

That is even how it is today, God has a plan for all of us, every single one of us. This plan is specific to each of us and includes the tiniest details of our lives. God made this plan for each of us in eternity past and knows how us following or not following His plan will affect His ultimate plan for eternity future. And yes, we can exercise our God-given free will and choose not to follow His plan for our lives.

Some of us are Kohathites and some of us are Merarites. That is, in the service of God, some of us get to do the “important” jobs and some of us get to do the “Not so important” jobs. That was also the case for the Israelites as they wandered the desert for 40 years, One of the assigned responsibilities of the sons of Kohath was to carry the Ark of the Covenant, and lead the procession as the people moved from one place to another. The sons of Mera were assigned to carry the frames of the Tabernacle: the ropes, bases, and tent pegs. There is little doubt that carrying the Ark of the Covenant was seen as much more glamorous and “important” than carrying a tiny little tent peg!

The 4 men who each carried the four corners of the Ark of the Covenant were literally one in a million men, while men who merely carried tent pegs may have been barely noticed as they trudged through their lives diligently doing their duty and carrying their tent peg.

Imagine being Joe the Merarite, carrying your little unimportant tent peg year after year for forty years of wandering in the desert. Imagine packing up your peg year after year after year as the Tabernacle was moved from on place to the next as the Pillar of Fire moved. Imagine seeing how everybody noticed and fawned over the men carrying the Ark, or the altars or the contents of the tabernacle such as the lampstands and so forth.

It’s easy to imagine how Joe the Merarite might feel or what he might say as time marched on and he carried his little unimportant tent peg. “This tent peg can’t be very important, there are dozens of them!”,;” Why hasn’t Aaron the Priest ever come by and patted me on the back?”: “Look how everybody notices Bob the Kohathite and his stupid Ark!” It’s easy to see how over years Joe could become disillusioned.

What if Joe just got fed up one day and decided he was simply done carrying that little tent peg? It’s easy to picture one day as, the Pillar of Fire moved onward signifying that the camp was to move, that Joe the Merarite might just say to himself that he might just sleep in that day, since nobody would even miss his little unimportant tent peg. It’s easy to imagine the whole camp packing up, traveling through the desert, and setting up wherever the Pillar of Fire settled down. But, what might have happened when the Camp arrived at the new location, set everything in place, and then discovered that all was ready except for that one little, unimportant tent peg? Is it possible that the entire congregation might have been prevented from properly worshipping God just because of one small tent peg? After all, the design of the Tabernacle was very specific, down to the smallest detail; the truth is, without that one little unimportant tent peg the Tabernacle was in fact not complete the way God designed it.

Are you called to carry an Ark or a tent peg? Are you called to Preach? Are you called to sing in the Choir? Are you called to teach Sunday School? Are you called to clean the Sanctuary after Sunday service? Are you called to mow the Churchyard? Are you called to clean the bathrooms? Not everyone is called to carry an Ark. Some of us may spend years doing no more than carrying a tent peg.

But, whatever it is we have each been called to do, every task is ordained and designed by God. Each and every task is part of God’s design and the Tabernacle we call our Church is not complete without every single component in place. And, without every single component in its proper place, God’s design for our worship is not complete. What that means to us in our everyday lives of Christian service is that, whatever we have been called to do, every job is important. In fact, no job, no matter how “important” or “not so important” is actually of equal importance in the eyes of God. And we are to do our called and assigned tasks for as long as God requires it of us and to the best of our ability for that assigned duration

Taking Off Your Uniform

 

 

2 Kings 5:9-11

“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.”

The full story for the background for this article can be found in 2 Kings 5, but we will briefly recap it here. Naaman, the Syrian General, had been afflicted with leprosy and was, of course, desperate for a cure. Word came to Naaman that the great Prophet of the Jews, Elisha, could cure him of his disease. As befitting a great general, Naaman showed up at Elisha’s home complete with Chariot and entourage, like the great man he was back in Syria.

We all know the story. Elisha didn’t even go outside to greet the great general; he simply sent a messenger out and told Naaman basically, “Go wash in the Jordan river, and you will be clean.” That was simple and with no fanfare at all. Needless to say, Naaman was greatly insulted, as he expected some great miracle from the Prophet. Naaman surely thought Elisha would come to the door, make a big greeting and perform some showy ritual for the big General. Elisha did not so Naaman stormed home in a huff basically. Of course, he was still leprous!

It was not until later in the passage, when Naaman’s servants spoke with him, that he changed his thoughts about what had happened. They pointed out to him, basically, that if Elisha had asked him to do some great thing that made him look good he would have done it; yet he had refused to do this simple thing that only glorified God.

Are we like that? Do we make a pretense of seeking what God wants, but what we really seek is the thing that preserves our status in our own eyes? Are we willing to “Take off our uniform?” Are we truly willing to humble ourselves and submit to the will of God, even when it doesn’t make us look good?

Naaman finally did humble himself and submit and was healed of his leprosy. We too might find that if we humble ourselves and submit we would also be healed of the diseases that afflict us: sin, death and lack of joy among them.

Throwback Thursday-Jesus Owns Us

throw back thursday

1 Corinthians 6:20

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.


When we buy something, what does that mean for us? It means we own it, whatever thing it is that we have purchased. At the point we buy it, that thing and its future are wholly in our hands. We become free and entitled at that point to do with the purchased item whatever we want to do. We control the daily existence as well as the future for the purchased item.

Well, Jesus purchased us; our text says we were purchased with a price. What was the price? The Blood of Jesus Christ, of course, is the price that was paid. There was a price owed of course; we owed the payment for our sins. As we all know, the “wages of sin is death.” If we have repented and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, then He paid it for us. But not only did He pay what we could not, our verse indicates He also purchased ownership of us on behalf of God the Father.  We have been purchased.

The rules do not change just because it is us that has been purchased. We are, if we are saved, His purchased items. He owns us. He is free at the  point of our salvation to do whatever He wants to do with us. He controls our daily existence as well as our future.

Is that how we strive to live? Do we truly attempt to conduct our lives in the sense that we are doing what He wants us to do? Our devotional verse says we are to glorify Him with both our bodies and our spirits. Is that our daily goal, to glorify God in both of those ways? Or, is God just a sideline? Does He have complete ownership or just a Sunday rental?


Working Our Garden

Work is NOT a dirty word. Our Lord made us to work, in Him and for Him. Comments closed here, so head over and share your thoughts. Blessings and enjoy!

potters-hands.jpg

I am passionate about faith, life, and work.

Throughout my journey, God has provided me with different work. While I did not always see it at the time, God was at work, weaving His plan in my life. Work is an important concept, discussed often in the Bible.

Early in Genesis, Scripture reveals work as part of the Lord’s created order in the World. Work is not a result of the Fall, for the concept of tending the garden and cultivating the Earth is mentioned in advance of the Fall in Genesis, Chapter 2.

Genesis 2:5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground (NIV).

Read the rest here: Working Our Garden

The Armor of God-Don Your Breastplate

Originally posted in 2014

armor

Ephesians 6:14

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;


 

Again, if you want to read the entire devotional passage on the Armor of God, read Ephesians 6:10-18.

Today we are discussing the breastplate of righteousness. A Roman soldier going into battle would wear a breastplate made of primarily leather pieces put together which would cover most of him other than arms, legs and head. Obviously, this was designed to protect the soldier’s vital organs from injury.

What is the breastplate of righteousness Paul refers to here? We will briefly discuss what it is not, then a couple of ideas on what it is.

It is not a breastplate constructed from any self-righteousness we might come up with.  This would be a shield composed of some “holier than thou” attitude we sometimes assume when dealing with the world around us.  The truth is, we are all lousy and have absolutely no righteousness of our own.  If that is the best we can come up with, that we are somehow better than others, then defeat at the hands of Satan is just around the corner.

It could be a reference to the imputed righteousness we all possess the instant we are saved by the Grace of God. This would be a breastplate constructed from the knowledge we are 100 percent forgiven by God and declared righteous in His eyes at the moment of salvation.  One of Satan’s favorite tactics is to make us doubt the goodness of God and our status with Him.  The assurance of our salvation would certainly be protection when that attack comes from the Evil One.

It could, and likely is, a reference to the daily righteousness we have from living in daily obedience to God’s Word. If we strive to learn and obey the Word of God daily, then we will be able to stand before both men and God daily knowing we are protected from any condemnation from either.

As before, however, this requires action on our parts. We must know what God wills for us in order to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness. Again, prayer, reading, studying and meditating are they keys. In this case, it also requires a willingness to take what we have learned and put it into action in our daily lives.

All Of Your Ways

proverbs-3_6

Proberbs 3:5.6

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.


This particular Proverb is often quoted by people as one that provides comfort and illustrates how God oversees and directs our lives; and it should be, as that is exactly what it illustrates to us.

On the other hand, there are large numbers of people who fail to see and feel the guiding hand of God in their lives, and then question God as to why and even hold it against Him.

What we sometimes fail to see is that this Proverb has two parts; it is a conditional statement. If we want to see the realization of one part of God’s Word, we have to meet the requirements of another part; this Proverb is a great example of that.

“If” we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, then He will direct our paths. In other words, as normal, God has to be the focus rather than us. When we expect God’s guidance and hand in our lives, but offer nothing in return, then it only becomes another sad example of our faith being man centered rather than God centered. What, then, does it mean to acknowledge Him in all of your ways?

Its like a sport in some ways; we only have to get back to the basics:

  • Are you saved? If you aren’t, the your sin has you separated from God, both in this life and eternally. Until that gulf is crossed by the restorative work of Jesus Christ, God cannot direct your paths.
  • Do you read and study God’s Word daily? If we aren’t seeking His revealed will from His Word, why would we expect any special guidance and direction?
  • Do we pray, meditate and spend alone time with God daily? Seeking His guidance means seeking His will. We can only know His will if we know Him. Study and prayer are the ways we accomplish that.
  • Are we striving to live like Jesus and for Jesus? It seems that if we are constantly out of line with the life He would have us live, that His efforts will be solely devoted to getting us back in line. Once again, why would He share with us His special guidance if we aren’t even following His specific guidance?

Become saved by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ. Read, study and meditate daily. Spend time in prayer and communion with God daily. Do these things and acknowledge Him in all of your ways, and He will direct your paths.

Faith In Action-Don’t Swear, Pray

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

It seems like there is a pretty clear linkage here between this verse and the section before. James had been talking about patience through trials; then he covered how not to react to these trials. His injunction to us was to not react to our trials and adversities by saying things we do not really mean. As God has a tendency to do, he immediately offers a solution to the problem. Cool huh? What we have here amounts to this basically: “When life gets tough, don’t say things you don’t mean and can’t back up, pray instead!”

It’s time for another language lesson very quickly, especially in light of the fact that shortly we will be talking about physical illnesses. This is important because, in the verse we are talking about, the word afflicted is not a reference to sick; it is not related to the sickness we see described later on in this passage. This is simply another reference to being afflicted with trials, mistreatment, and persecutions. This is the main reason this verse seems so connected to the discussion before. When we face trial, we should pray; when we face persecution, we should pray.

We pray for a solution; we pray for God’s will; sometimes we simply pray for comfort during these times. The answer to what we face is there, we just have to reach for it, and we reach for it by prayer. One writer used this Hymn to illustrate what we give away when we fail to pray, and instead act inappropriately.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden?

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

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