Sunday, December 25, 2011

Please pardon my mess hopefully Onesimus is moving to here;
hopefully Onesimus
image source; construction worker

Sunday, December 18, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13/NKJV)

     H owever Della's frugality and grit are not all we see with this introduction. We also begin to see some of her daily devotion and the daily giving of her own life that was mentioned in my previous post about this story. Furthermore, if we continue on we see the importance of this modest sum of money; "One dollar and eighty-seven cents." and we understand Della's response to it;
"There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. "
                                                                                       The Gift of the Magi
     A fter all, "...the next day would be Christmas", and what could be more disheartening then to have worked so hard to be able to provide something special for someone we truly love and fall short of obtaining that goal? It is in her response that we see a hint of what is clearly mentioned later;
"Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim."                                                                                        The Gift of the Magi
     I t is in this little snippet we see the love and honor Della has for Jim, we see there is joy not in something for herself, but in something for the one she loves; "Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him.". We see the value she has placed on Jim as it is something she feels needs to be worthy of him; "Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim." We begin to see the delight of Della as she sees the happiness and surprise on Jim's face as she thinks of the moment when he is presented with her expressions of love and devotion. Again, we truly see daily devotion and the daily giving of life.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,...So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself...Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:25,28,33/NKJV)

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther
*NOTE; for other short stories by O. Henry go here

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
The Gift of The Magi (bookcover)

Sunday, December 11, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”. (Luke 2:13.14/NKJV)

     L ast year at Christmas as I was looking for something to blog about I briefly discussed some literature and its redemptive qualities (see also here, here and here).  This year I hope to do the same and, I think it is obvious from the picture above, one piece of literature I hope to blog about is The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry*.  I must confess that all I know about O. Henry is simply this; he was an American and his real name was William Sydney Porter.  So I do apologize for my lack of biographical knowledge.  I honestly have no idea whether his life was one spent in the debaucheries of sin or in the enlightenment of saintliness.  The apostle Paul wisely said, "...ask nothing for conscience sake." and so (in the case of O. Henry's bio) I will follow that advise.
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13/NKJV)

     Y et whether Mr. Porter, aka O. Henry, was a "sinner" or a "saint" we cannot deny the humanity and stark truth which we are confronted with in his story The Gift of the Magi.  I quote John 15 above not because someone in the story gives their life, at least not in the literal sense.  However, we must remember there are other ways of giving ones life.  It is this "other way" that we get a glimpse of in O. Henry's brief (there are only 2163 words in the story) tale.  It is not only in their large but also in their small actions that we see both Jim and Della (O. Henry's characters in the story) would be more then willing to give that "...last full measure of devotion..." which Abrahan Lincoln so highly honors in his Gettysburg Address.  It is the daily devotion, the daily giving of one's own life that we see in both the characters, and if we are honest we would say daily devotion and daily giving of one's own life can often be more difficult than that ultimate sacrifice.
     S o what specifically in this vignette reflects shared sacrifice and the pleasure of giving, i.e. other then Della's obvious sacrifice of her hair and Jim's obvious sacrifice of his watch, what do we see?  The answer to this immediately begins with O. Henry's introduction of Della at start of the whole story;
"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas."
                                                                                       The Gift of the Magi
In this succinct paragraph O. Henry not only shows us Della's dilemma, but part of her character. We see that Della is frugal and has some grit; "Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony..."

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther
*NOTE; for other short stories by O. Henry go here

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
The Gift of The Magi (bookcover)

Sunday, December 04, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

Luke 1 & 2
(New King James Bible)

Chapter 1
Dedication to Theophilus

1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us,
2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us,
3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,
4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

John's Birth Announced to Zacharias

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division,
9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”
19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.
20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple.
22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.
23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.
24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying,
25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Christ's Birth Announced to Mary

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah,
40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said:“ My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.
58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Circumcision of John The Baptist

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.
60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.”
62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled.
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.
65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea.
66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zacharias' Prophecy

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Chapter 2
Christ Born to Mary

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,[a] who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Glory in the Highest

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Circumsion of Jesus

21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented in the Temple

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD”),
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Simeon Sees God's Salvation

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.
34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against
35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Anna Bears Witness to the Redeemer

36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;
37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

The Family Returns to Nazareth

39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

The Boy Jesus Amazes the Scholars

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;
44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.
45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

Jesus Advances in Wisdom and Favor

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

"Simul iustus et peccator. "*
*Martin Luther

image re-design;
bleu elle
original image source idea;
bible passage source;
Bible Gateway

Friday, December 02, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   S o who or what are you a slave to?
"Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." (Galatians 4:7/NASB)

"For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14/NASB)

   O nce a month I re-post this so anyone reading will understand the purposes for creating this blog.  So, before I do anything else please allow me to explain the main purpose of this blog and particularly these posts, i.e. the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2/NKJV)

The Bad News First -  (In the Shackles of Sin)
   A gain I ask; who or what are you a slave to?
"Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever',..." (John 8:34, 35a/NKJV)

   Y ou are not alone, the truth is we all have sinned and consequently will not get to be with God,
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,..." (Romans 3:23/NASB)

   W e are all weighed down by those things which seperate us from God, continually bring spiritual death in our lives, and inevitably destine us to hell;
"For the wages of sin is death,..." (Romans 6:23/NASB)

Now the Good News - (Get Out of the Shackles It's Time to G.O.)
   G od freely provided a way for us to be with Him;
"...but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23/NASB)

   G od loves us so much He sent His son Jesus to pay the price;
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8/NASB)

   G od provided Someone who can and will set you free. All you have to do is turn to Him, acknowledge your need and ask Him to forgive you;
"...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;..." (Romans 10:9/NASB)

   O nce we have turned to Christ, confessed our sins, and need for forgiveness to Him we have peace with God;
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,..." (Romans 5:1/NASB)

   O nce we have done so we have the ability (through Christ) to overcome sin in our lives
"For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14/NASB)

   O nce we make the choice to follow Christ we are heirs with Him;
"Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." (Galatians 4:7/NASB)

   S o, again I ask; who or what are you a slave to?   I (and millions of others) know Someone who can set you free.  If you truly want to be set free then all you have to do is turn to Him (Jesus).

Royal Gifts
"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21/NKJV)

   I n my previous post we began discussing practical ways to help us live for Christ;
  1. weekly church attendance
  2. daily prayer
  3. daily Bible reading
  A t this point I would like to pause and discuss the reason why we do these, I will be brief, we have been given some phenomenal gifts;
  1. God willing gave His one and only begotten son (Jesus) so we could have eternal life.
  2. Jesus willing gave His life on the cross (suffering all the things we should have) to pay the debt we owe.
  3. The Holy Spirit is freely given and willingly comes to dwell within us so once we are saved we can live for Christ.
   N ote - while my salvation is not contingent upon my works, i.e. I am saved solely by what Christ did for me, no good works of mine can get me to heaven.  That does not negate the fact of what Christ said;
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them..." (Matthew 7:24/NKJV)
"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them..." (Luke 6: 46,47/NKJV)
"If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15/NKJV)

   O ther parts of the New Testament plainly state the importance of living for Christ;
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,..." (Hebrews 10:24/NKJV)
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22/NKJV)
"But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18/NKJV)

   F urthemore, Romans shows the end results if we are not thankful and do not glorify God in/with our lives;
"...because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21/NKJV)

   T he fact is if we are truly Christians then we will want to give back to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit because of all that has been given to us,  This is called gratitude, or as scripture puts it, thankfulness.  The only thing that even comes close to what has been given to us is our very lives.  So as Christians we want to live for Him.  Out of gratitude we daily offer our lives (and everything in them) to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." (Hebrews 13: 15/NKJV)

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
Get Out of the Shackles - wallpaper

Sunday, November 27, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"
    S o in both cases Satan challenges God's known word.  We also see in both passages temptation begins with the desire to fulfill a legitimate need.  In Eves case it was to eat;
“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1/NKJV)
"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes,..." (Genesis 3:6/NKJV)

and in Jesus' case it was because he was hungry;
"And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry." (Matthew 4:2/NKJV)
“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matthew 4:3/NKJV)

    B oth of these are legitimate needs given by God.  So Satan does not have the power to create instead Satan takes the good things God has already legitimately given and twists/perverts them.  Obviously, food, eating and being hungry are not evil in and of themselves, however the problem with each of these in Genesis 3 and Matthew 4 was how these legitimate needs were to be met, i.e. were they to be fulfilled God's way, or another way?.
    A dditionally we see another similarity in that both Eve (for reasons why Eve was believed to be alone -initially- when she had the conversation with the serpent see here and here) and Jesus were alone when Satan came to tempt them.  While it is true we are never truly alone as God always is/was/will be there for us.  It is also true that Satan will often come to tempt us when we are "alone" and at a moment of weakness (or perceived weakness).  The first thing Eve should have done was to call her husband, Adam, as soon as the serpent began talking to her.  If that did not work Eve could call God, after all it is evident He spoke with both Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 and that He intended to visit them in the garden and have an ongoing relationship with both of them;
"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,..." (Genesis 3:8a/NKJV)

    Y et Eve (initially) does neither of these although both Adam and God are obviously not to far away.  A lesson every Christian should learn is simply; if help is near when being tempted, use it to overcome the temptation.

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;

Sunday, November 13, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

    A quick review on what has been discussed;
  1. Satan questions God's word
  2. Eve responds by misquoting God (the reason why is unclear).
  3. Adam does not do his job.
  4. Eve listens to the serpent rather than her husband or God.
  5. Eve chooses to sin.
  6. Adam listens to his wife rather than God.
  7. Adam chooses to sin.
  8. We are all responsible for our own relationship with God.
  9. We are all responsible for our own knowledge of God's Word.
  10. Knowing, properly interpreting and using God's word in our lives safeguards our relationship with Him.
    I n the last post four things that help us know, properly interpret and use God's word in our lives were briefly mentioned, they are;
  1. His Word
  2. His Spirit
  3. Prayer
  4. Other believers
    L ooking at each of these will help us to use them in our lives;
  1. His Word - it is best to read, study and interpret God's word (scripture/the Bible) as a whole and in context with the rest of what is said in scripture.  Scripture should be used to interpret it self.
  2. His Spirit - it is best to read, study and interpret scripture with the guidance of God's Holy Spirit as opposed to the wisdom of man.
  3. Prayer - it is best to read, study and interpret scripture with prayer before, during and after our time in God's word.
  4. Other believers - it is best to have other true believers around us to help us with reading, studying and interpreting God's word. God knows we are fallible humans and so He has provided others for checks and balances.
    I f we compare and contrast the confrontation between Eve and the serpent in Genesis 3:1-3;
"Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden"?' And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die."’” (Genesis 3:1-3/NKJV)

with another confrontation much, much later in the Bible (Matthew 4:1-11)*
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘ He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘ In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’"'Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”  Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”   Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11/NKJV)

not only do we see the results are quite different, but we learn a lot about how to use the word of God in our lives and consequently how to overcome our common enemy (Satan).
    I n both cases we see the serpent challenges God's words;
"...And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said,...'" (Genesis 3:1b/NKJV)
"Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God,...(Matthew 4:3/NKJV)
"Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God,...'" (Matthew 4:5/NKJV)

    I n the first instance we see (by looking at the passage, the scriptures around it, and related to it) Satan's question was patently absurd, and was plainly meant to challenge the very words spoken to both Adam and Eve in Genesis 1;
"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' And God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food'; and it was so. (Genesis 1:27-30).

    I n the second instance we see that Satan not only challenged God's words once (Matthew 4:3), but twice (Matthew 4:5). However, Jesus does not even address this challenge as he knows what happened, and what He heard after He was baptized by John in Matthew 3;
"When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3:16-17/NKJV)

*NOTE: How the confrontation ends in Matthew 4 shows the true nature of what Satan is all about, i.e by challenging God's word Satan challenges everything about God.  For more information on Matthew 4:1-11 see here, and here.

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Art by Greg Martin

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY or Grace (Pt6)

"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   A t this point it is best to stop and look a little closer at what is meant by the holiness of God as I find our natural inclination is to view the term "holy" or "holiness" as simply referring to the sinless, pure nature of God.  However, we must remember that is only one facet of the term "holy" and "holiness" when referring to God. So when the terms holy or holiness are used to describe God, just what is meant? In his on line study Bob Deffinbaugh states the following;
"The term 'holy' is often understood in its contemporary usage rather than its true meaning in the Scriptures. For this reason, our study must begin by reviewing several dimensions of the definition of holiness.
  1. To be holy is to be distinct, separate, in a class by oneself. As Sproul puts it:
'The primary meaning of holy is "separate." It comes from an ancient word that meant, "to cut," or "to separate." Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase "a cut above something." When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has a superior excellence, we use the expression that it is "a cut above the rest."' (R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God [Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985], p. 54.)
This means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition.
'When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way [emphasis mine]. The same basic meaning is used when the word holy is applied to earthly things.' (Ibid p.55)
   A gain, scripture plainly points out what is emphasized in the above quotation;
"No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God." (1 Samuel 2:2/NKJV)

   T his is not to exclude the moral purity of God, rather moral purity is only a part of God's holiness.  Once more the study by Deffinbaugh states it best; "Purity is not excluded from the idea of the holy; it is contained within it."  Gods attributes are based in holiness, everything about God is unlike man (which makes sense as he is the Creator and we are the created).  So when we think of Gods love we must remember His love is holy.  Additionally, when we think of His kindness, mercy, grace, justice, wisdom and judgement, we must remember all of these are holy.  This is the third point made by Deffinbaugh in his study;
      "3. For God to be holy is for Him to be holy in relation to every
      aspect of His nature and character.

'When we use the word holy to describe God, we face another problem. We often describe God by compiling a list of qualities or characteristics that we call attributes. We say that God is a spirit, that He knows everything, that He is loving, just, merciful, gracious, and so on. The tendency is to add the idea of the holy to this long list of attributes as one attribute among many. But when the word holy is applied to God, it does not signify one single attribute. On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense. The word is used as a synonym for his deity. That is, the word holy calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is holy love, his justice is holy justice, his mercy is holy mercy, his knowledge is holy knowledge, his spirit is holy spirit.'"(Ibid p.57)
   S o everything about God is holy, i.e. so far above us, so far set apart from us. In the Old Testament Isaiah speaks for God and states;
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9/NKJV)

and Paul also states in the New Testament;
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God..." (1 Corinthians 3: 19a/NKJV)

   I t is this realization that causes so many to respond as they do when coming into God's presence.  It is why Job has to get on his face and say;
"Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know...Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42: 3, 6/NKJV)

   I t is why Isaiah exclaims he is "undone"(Isaiah 6:5), it is why Joshua falls on his face when confronted by the captain of the Lord of Hosts (Joshua 5:14), it is why the angels have to tell Zacharias, Mary and the shepherds to "not be afraid" (Luke 1:18, Luke 1:30, Luke 2:9-10), it is why those with Peter were astonished, and it is why Peter falls down in Luke 5.

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
Phoenix Nebula
original art by Greg Martin

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Art by Greg Martin


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   I n GRACE Pt 4 we briefly discussed the "Who?" which answered one of the foundational truths we see/learn in Luke 5:1-11. Now we will discuss the second question "What?", i.e. what is God like, what qualities and/or characteristics does he possess and manifest?. This second question needs to be answered so we can lay a solid foundation for anything else we see/learn in this passage. In my previous post that question is first answered with one word, "Holy"*. While it is true God possesses many other qualities/characteristics, and it is true we learn of many of His other characteristics in Luke 5: 1-11, it is also true this one quality is foundational to all the others. It is this quality that is the very essence of God.  So where do we find it in Luke 5:1-11?
"When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'”. For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid....' (Luke 5:8-10/NKJV)

   P eter falls before Christ and states; "Depart from me, for I am sinful man, O Lord.", because he recognizes (at this time) Jesus is not just a rabbi to be highly respected, but the representative of God.  Consequently, Peter understands Jesus has the power and authority of God and God's very presence is with Him.  This in turn brings about the realization (by Peter) of the holiness of God.  His response is more fully discussed here, here, and also in a previous post.  Peters response is reflective of the children of Israel in Exodus 34 when Moses had to place a veil over his face;
"Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him." (Exodus 34: 29-30/NKJV)

Paul also mentions the veil of Moses in 2 Corinthians;
"...unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away."(2 Corinthians 3:13/NKJV)

-for more information on the veil over Moses face see here, here and here. However, there is a difference in how the presence of God was manifested with Moses and with Christ.  It is obvious that Jesus (nor is it recorded anywhere in scripture) did not "shine" as did Moses, rather the presence of God was manifested in so many other ways in Christs life.  This makes total sense as Jesus is God, while Moses is/was not.  Finally, the holiness of God is not only shown over and over in scripture, but also emphasized over and over in scripture;
"Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.'" (Exodus 3:5/NKJV)

"Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness,..." (Exodus 15:11/NKJV)

"For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy...You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. " (Leviticus 11:44-45/NKJV - see also Leviticus 19:2, 20:7)

"No one is holy like the LORD,..." (1 Samuel 2:2a/NKJV)

"The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved! The LORD is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy." (Psalm 99:1-3/NKJV)

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!' (Isaiah 6:1-3/NKJV)

"...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:15-16/NKJV)

"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy...." (Revelation 15:4/NKJV)

   A bove is a brief list of some scriptures which show God's holiness and as in the case of God - the Creator of all, there are many scriptures which show this quality of God.  In fact there are too many to be listed here.  I would encourage anyone wanting to study this quality to begin by looking up the scriptures about God's holiness by using the appropriate books** and also using reliable sources**.

*NOTE: for an excellent article on the holiness of God see here.
**NOTE: other sources on the holiness of God;
"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
Phoenix Nebula
original art by Greg Martin

Sunday, October 16, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   W e were looking at Luke 5:1-11 starting with the responses of Jesus and Peter, but the responses of Peter and Jesus are only the beginning, if we look at the whole passage we learn two things;
  1. who and what God really is
  2. who and what we really are
   F urthermore if we look at other parts of scripture we get a better understanding of both 1 and 2 above (as well as Luke 5:1-11).  So let us begin by looking at number 1 and asking these questions - who and what?* There are two foundational truths in Luke 5: 1-11 which answer these questions;
  1. Who? = God - Creator of Everything
  2. What? = God is holy
   J ust as there are many other things to see and learn about God in the rest of scripture, so also in this passage - e.g. God is gracious, God is the initiator, God is kind, God is wise, God is the provider, God is almighty, etc. - but it is best to start with these two as they are the foundation to everything else we see and learn from Luke 5: 1-11.  Furthermore, these two go hand in hand, however let's back up and look at where these are shown in Luke 5: 1-11. The first - God - Creator of all - is demonstrated in verses 4 - 7 and 9 - 10a;
"When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' But Simon answered and said to Him, 'Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.' And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink." (Luke 5:4-7/NKJV)

"For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon." (Luke 5:9-10a/NKJV)
   G od - Creator of everything is obviously supported from the beginning of scripture;
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1/NKJV)
and is supported through out scripture;
"So the LORD said to him, 'Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?" (Exodus 4:11/NKJV)

"Then Joshua spoke to the LORD...and he said in the sight of Israel: 'Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.' So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,..." (Joshua 10:12, 13a/NKJV)

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:...'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Job 38:1,4a/NKJV)

"O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions—" (Psalm 104:24/NKJV)

The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters. (Psalm 24:1/NKJV)

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: 'I am the LORD, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;'..." (Isaiah 44:24/NKJV)

"And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning "made them male and female",...'" (Matthew 19:4a/NKJV see also Mark 10:6)

"And: 'You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.'" (Hebrews 1:10/NKJV)

"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." (Hebrews 11:3/NKJV)

There are many, many more scriptures that show God - Creator of all that is seen and unseen.  In fact there are too many to be listed here, so let us continue by asking what does all of this have to do with Luke 5:1-11?  It is simply this, after seeing the miracle draught of fish Peter and all those with him realized that somehow God is "in the mix" and as Jews they understood that only God, as Creator of all, not only has authority over the sea and everything in it, but also owns the sea and everything in it.  Consequently, witnessing (firsthand) the miracle draught of fish means (to them) Jesus has the power and authority of God.  It is one of the things which causes Peter to change and call Jesus "Lord" (i.e treating Christ as the representative of the One True Holy God) as opposed to calling Him "Master" (i.e treating Christ as a respected rabbi/teacher).  Furthermore, this response is seen with the others, "For he and all who were with him were astonished...and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee...".  In essence, Peter and all those with Him begin to see Jesus as synonymous with the One True Holy God.
*NOTE; For a very brief explanation of who God is see here.

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

all bible passages source
images sources;
bleu elle
Creation of Light

Sunday, October 09, 2011

   N ow let us look at Jesus' response;
"And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.' " (Luke 5:11/NKJV)
   N otice Jesus does not debate the second part of Peters statement; "...for I am a sinful man...", Jesus (being God) knows Peters statement is true so he addresses it by reassuring him with the simple statement "Do not be afraid..."  This is reflective of what the angel said to the shepherds;
"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.'" (Luke 2:10/NKJV)
and what the angels said to Zacharias and Mary;
"But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.'" (Luke 1:13/NKJV)

"Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.'" (Luke 1:30.NKJV)
although in each of those circumstances the angels obviously were/are not God.  However, Jesus is no mere angel, but God in the flesh.  Consequently, He goes beyond the outward and sees Peters heart.  Jesus knows the first part of Peters statement, "Depart from me,..." is not a rejection Him (like the scribes and Pharisees) but rather a response similar to the shepherds, Zacharias, Mary and so many other before Peter (for more information on Peter's response see here, here and see my previous post).  So Peter "falls on his face" and utters the third part of his statement, "...O Lord."  Jesus knows what Peter understands, i.e. when Peter is confronted with his sinfulness Peter cannot stand in the presence of Jesus the representative of the holy, just, righteous and perfect God.  Jesus sees Peter has taken his first step towards God, i.e. an honest admission of his own condition and who Jesus truly is.  At this point, Jesus recognizes Peters admission that God is with Him and that he is God's representative (later Peter will come to the full revelation that Jesus is the one and only God).  However, Jesus not only alleviates Peters fears with the first part of His statement, "Do not be afraid...", but further shows Peter he has nothing to fear by commissioning him, "...from now on you will catch men."  and with the commission Jesus shows God's/His great grace, mercy and kindness.  Again this is reflective of God calling so many others in scripture;
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.' Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.' Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.' And He said, 'Go, and tell this people:'..." (Isaiah 6:5-8/NKJV - see also Genesis 17:1ff, Exodus 3:1ff, Ezekiel 1:28-2:9)

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

image source;
bleu elle