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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Service

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?


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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-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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