Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Signs Of Miracles

". . . You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.  A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it. . .".  Matthew 16:3-4

Don't we all sometimes wish we had signs of what is to come?  Well, there were multitudes surrounding Jesus and they were asking for signs.  How many did they need?  Feeding thousands with loaves and fishes, as well as healing the sick and raising the dead weren't enough? 

If I understand correctly, he accused them of learning to interpret the signs of nature, but not the signs of future events.

Then he called them a wicked and adulterous generation who would get no miraculous signs.  In this case, it seems he is, once again, using the term adultery to imply a lack of faithfulness to God, not a mate.

Don't you wonder how they could sit around the real miracle -- Jesus -- and ask for a miracle?  He was quite justified in telling them they could not read the signs of miracles, or of the times.

How frustrated he must have been.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Be Careful About "Just Talking"

"You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:  'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"  Matthew 15:7-9  The New International Rainbow Study Bible

When we talk about the Ten Commandments and realize we are told not to take the Lord's name in vain, we are taught by men that it means not to say "oh my god" or similar little sayings.  I don't think that's what is meant by taking His name in vain and this scripture is one of the reasons.

According to Jesus, worshiping in vain has to do with saying religious things when you don't believe or feel them.  It means simply spouting the words we have heard from men, not from Jesus or God.

I once had a group of friends, members of a book club.  We were discussing parts of the New Testament one night.  Several of the members spoke with great authority about the scriptures they had studied in various Christian denomination churches.  During the evening it became apparent to all of us that they did not believe in the virgin birth or that Jesus rose from the grave.  This, I believe, is what Jesus meant when he said people worship him in vain and what God meant in his commandment. 

Being a Christian does not mean mouthing the words we read or hear from sermons.  It means really believing the unbelievable -- what is hard to swallow.

We are not taught it is easy to be Christian.  We are told it is very hard.  People look to believers for the truth.

If we don't really believe with our hearts and minds, we are just talking when we speak of God, the Father, and Jesus.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Why Parables?

". . . The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them."  Matthew 13:11

The disciples wanted to know why Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.  His answer was that they (the disciples) had more knowledge of heaven than the people in the crowd.

He went on to say that the people, though seeing do not see, and though hearing, do not hear.  Jesus reminded them that Isaiah had prophesied that people would always hear, but never understand and always see, but never perceive.  He said the people had become calloused.  They had shut their ears and eyes and hearts.

In order for Jesus to heal the people in the crowds, he needed them to open up their minds and hearts so that they could more clearly grasp what he was teaching.

So Jesus taught with stories so that he might catch the attention of all who attended his gatherings.  He said he would speak in parables and thereby would tell the crowds things that had been hidden since creation.

He made the truths easier to understand.  It was their job to look, listen, comprehend and believe.

 A  Prayer For Reading Scripture

Father, please help me to read the words you want me to read.
Then, teach me to understand what I have read.
And further, to communicate this new knowledge to others,
So that they can understand as well.

Lou Hough

Friday, June 6, 2014


"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."  Matthew 5:12

This scripture comes right after the blessings Jesus announced during the sermon on the mount.  He had just told the people they were blessed when men reviled and persecuted them and told lies about them for righteousness sake.

How like we citizens of this world to go into attack mode about someone we assume to be a good person.  Haven't you noticed that?  The criminal element doesn't receive nearly as much bad mouthing as the "Sandra Dees" of this world.  Remember that song sung by "Rizz: in Grease?  "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity."

But on and on people go, ignoring and cutting down the Christians of the world for being too good.  Haven't you heard people accuse others of being honest to a fault?  The intonation says that there is something bad about being honest, rather than good.  Haven't you known people that think their worldly ways made them understand the scripture more than the unworldly.  Then the unworldly think their way is better and they understand more than the worldly.

It's kind of a stuffed shirt duo duking it out to determine for themselves who is the best, when that is God's judgment, not our own that counts. 

Then, we have the ones who retaliate.  At the very least, they bad mouth and gossip.  In some times and some places, these have caused destruction, even death.

May the good Lord forbid that we should ever have another real prophet.  I guess they would have to create another martyr.  Their fear?  Someone should know more than they!  Their response?  That person should be hurt for their knowledge.  Their opinion?  Like Jesus, they should be hung on the cross until dead.  The result of not being able to crucify modern day prophets?  Attack instead with words -- or engage in terror tactics.

May God bring peace to this world.