Archive for Blessings

I can never get ahead…I’m just saying.

Posted in Bible Study, faith, Minutia, Observations, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/10/26 by NY4JB

How many times have we said something like this?  “Every time I get ahead something breaks and I end up behind again.”  As if we are being kept down rather than being provided for.  The Lord tells us that he will provide for us daily yet how many of us trust him?  I’m already thinking of my excuses…

Exodus 16:4-5 (English Standard Version)
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.  On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Just like when Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream (see Genesis 41) and determines that the Lord is going to provide an exceptional harvest for seven years before seven years of famine.  The Lord provided for the hard time to come so they would be ready.  So maybe if we find we have more than we need there is a reason and when we find we are short it is our own fault and not God’s.  And maybe we should give thanks more and complain less…I’m just saying.

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Passing these along…

Posted in faith, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/10/22 by NY4JB

I didn’t write these but they are worth passing along…

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.  It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.  The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.  The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.  Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.  As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church…”

And

A woman’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her mother. When the minister arrived, he found the woman lying in bed with her head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside her bed. The minister assumed that the woman had been informed of his visit… ‘I guess you were expecting me, he said.

‘No, who are you?’ said the mother.

The minister told her his name and then remarked, ‘I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up…’

‘Oh yeah, the chair,’ said the bedridden woman ‘Would you mind closing the door?’

Puzzled, the minister shut the door.

‘I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,’ said the woman. ‘But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head…’ I abandoned any attempt at prayer,’ the old woman continued, ‘ until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘ Prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest; sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I will be with you always’.  ‘Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’  So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.’ 

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old woman to continue on the journey.  Then he prayed with her, anointed her with oil, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her mama had died that afternoon. Did she die in peace?’ he asked. Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, she called me over to her bedside, told me she loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found her. But there was something strange about her death. Apparently, just before Mom died, she leaned over and rested her head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?’

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, ‘I wish we could all go like that.’

Colossians 1 Devotional

Posted in Bible Study, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/07/12 by NY4JB

I was asked to lead our praise band in a devotional before our rehearsal last week so here it is.  Feel free to pass it on or use it in any way you see fit…

Heavenly Father,
We are thankful that you have chosen to allow us to worship you, offering songs of praise. We thank you for the talents and skills you have given each of us and the opportunity to use them to glorify your name. As we go to your word tonight we ask that you let us hear your voice. Please don’t let the ink, the paper or the voice of a mere man reading your word become an obstacle or distraction but let your voice be heard by all. Lord you tell us in Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God…” yet as musicians we are not in the habit of being still so tonight we want to stop and listen expectantly for your voice as we prepare our hearts to receive you.
Amen

At this time, please close your eyes and pause in silent worship for about two minutes (Note: I used a timer so that I wouldn’t have to watch the clock)

Paul an apostle of
Christ Jesus by
The will of God and
Timothy our brother

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

(Colossians 1 ESV)

When asked to lead this devotional I knew the first thing to be done was to choose what we would study. The temptation is to pick a topic and then research Bible verses to support the topic. Of course the danger there is that we are then starting with our own wisdom rather than God’s word and it is fairly easy to find Bible quotes to support just about any opinion even if it’s not Biblically based. So I prayed about how to approach this and found my answer was to cast lots as was done throughout the Bible such as in Leviticus 16:8 “And Aaron shall cast lots …

Using the random number generator in excel to get a number between 1 and 66, yielded 51 as the book of the Bible that we should study. Colossians is the 51st book, since it has 4 chapters I then had excel give me a number between 1 and 4. So by the modern equivalent of casting lots it was determined that we should study Colossians 1. The same method was used to determine our focus for tonight is to be on verse 10, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

This verse can be applied to the various levels of the church, starting with the individual believer; then up to the group level such as the worship team, in our case a praise band; the leadership of a local congregation, continuing up to the local church entity and finally the universal church, which, as you know, is the collection of all Christian churches.

So how are we supposed to walk? Ephesians 4:1 tells us to “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, ”. We understand that sometimes small children will do things they are not supposed to do but as a child grows we expect more from them and of course adults don’t act like children. The same applies to our spiritual lives, with new believers being like small children needing help and support from the mature believers. The mature believer is then held to a higher standard and so on up through the levels with teachers, leadership and the local church itself each being held to increasingly higher standards.

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Applying this to us, as a praise band, we see that not only must our personal walk be right but also as a group. So how is a group of Christians to act? Jesus tells us in John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” So then what is Christian love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

So with those guidelines about our walk, we move on to the idea of “bearing fruit in every good work.” Initially I thought the word ‘fruit’ meant just new believers but as I searched the scriptures I found there is more to this word fruit. Here are a few of the verses I found.

Hebrews 13:15
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

So praise is also fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Here we again find Christian love associated with fruit.

Philippians 1:9-11
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

And yet another type of fruit, “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 10:31
…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In the end, everything we do is the fruit we bear.

Lord, our prayer for El Shaddai Christian Church tonight is that we may be filled with the knowledge of your will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

(All Bible quotes are from the English Standard Version.)

Why Worry

Posted in Bible Study, faith, Minutia, Observations, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/06/15 by NY4JB

Matthew 11:25 (ESV)
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;

Matthew 18:3 (ESV)
and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

I need to remember this when I start thinking of all of the stuff I have to do. As it says in the Dire Straits song, “so why worry now…”

God is my father, he adopted me when I accepted His Son, Jesus, as my personal Lord and Saviour, so I’ve got nothing to worry about.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you.

Why Not to Drink

Posted in Bible Study, Minutia, Observations, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2010/05/27 by NY4JB

The Bible does not say specifically that we should not drink alcohol but it does address the subject in other ways as well as explicitly saying not to be drunk. I don’t believe it is necessarily a bad thing to have a drink with friends when relaxing together but care must be taken. One of the reasons people enjoy the effect of alcohol is it allows us to relax and take our guard down for a while. During a study of Colossians one verse that spoke to me about this subject is, Colossians 4:2 (English Standard Version) “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Now here’s where the problem is; how can we be steadfast and watchful when our guard is down? When looking back on his life, Ozzy Osbourne once said, that every time he did something stupid he had been drinking.

How much easier it is to slip into sin after drinking alcohol, so while having a drink is not a sin in itself, one must be very careful and guarded before we take our guard down.

Lord, please guide us and protect us in our every endeavor. May our desires be in line with your will and may our actions glorify your name, for Jesus sake we pray.
Amen

NY4JB

Posted in Bible Study, faith, Minutia, Observations, Radio with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/03/24 by NY4JB

After 16 years of being KE4JUH, I have applied for and received a vanity call-sign, to get a shorter call-sign and something with some personal relevance.  I grew up in NY, live in 4-land and my initials are JB so NY4JB.  It may seem funny but it’s a little weird to change one’s on-air name, it is giving me some first hand experience with the Biblical idea of ‘name’ which is a recurring theme…

Genesis 4:26
To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 12:2 (English Standard Version)
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

I notice that it doesn’t say they called upon the Lord or I will make you great, it says “…call upon the name of the LORD.” and “I will bless you and make your name great”

 In any event I’m slightly freaked out about having a new call sign and thankful for the new understanding.

BTW started a new blog to go with the new call http://ny4jb.wordpress.com/

My Grace is Sufficient

Posted in Bible Study, faith, Observations, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/03/22 by NY4JB

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (English Standard Version)
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am troubled by those who think that prayer heals anything and everything. While it’s true that prayer is extremely powerful, when we ask for something that is not in God’s will, the answer will be no. It is clear from the above scripture that even the Apostle Paul struggled with matters of the flesh and was denied. God clearly does not view our physical pains in the same way that we do and will at times allow us to suffer, just as a parent must allow a child to experience disappointment, in order that we might grow in the spirit.

In fact, from God’s perspective even physical death is just a calling home of one of his children (assuming the child is ‘saved’) yet from a human point of view it is a sad loss even when the person has lived a long, full life. I believe the following scripture is often misinterpreted as meaning that Jesus was mourning the death of his friend Lazarus but I believe “Jesus wept “ and was “greatly troubled” because of the lack of faith of his friends and followers. Jesus would not be troubled in the human sense because a saved man had died, knowing that they would soon be together again in Heaven.

John 11:32-35 (English Standard Version)
32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.

Caution must be exercised here not to confuse human mourning with the spiritual truth, for as humans we will grieve the loss of a friend or family member from our earthly life.  It is a very real loss and as long as we live in this world we will feel grief for those who go on ahead of us. We will even feel sorrow at the loss of friends or times that are no longer at hand as a parent is both excited to see a child grow up and head out on their own, while missing the child’s presence in their own home.

So, we should pray for those who have needs but we should understand that we have no knowledge of God’s plan and he may answer a prayer with “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”