“The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child was . . . They prostrated themselves and did him homage” – Matthew 2:9-11 The Gospel of Matthew tells us of the first Epiphany, the visitation of the three “wise men” to Mary and her child. Long before the day took on the aura of a religious observance and became known as “little Christmas” and long before it became the last of the beloved “12 Days of Christmas” there was a greater meaning to this visit. Matthew speaks of Jesus being born in Bethlehem, with no manger or shepherds. These details are found in the Gospel of Luke and speak to his, gentile, readers. Matthew, through his recording of the words and deeds of Jesus, presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Scripture and the ultimate teacher, rabbi, or wise man. Therefore, it is important, for Matthew, to have wise men from the mysterious East payContinue reading »

“You have granted this great victory by the hand of your servant” -Judges 15:1:18 Even the mightiest of men, Samson, knew that his tremendous physical power was rooted in God. Samson, a man of huge proportions and stronger than many “ordinary” men, recognized that even he had limited power. In the wake of his victory at Ramath-Lehi, wherein he defeated 1000 Philistine soldiers with the jawbone of an ass, he realized that it was the power of God, through the onrush of the Holy Spirit, that carried him through the bloody mayhem to victory. Using the jawbone of a lowly wild ass, or onager, Samson laid low the powerful army of Philistia who had conquered the eastern Mediterranean and almost Egypt itself. This was the nation who introduced the powerful iron weaponry into the region and flourished on military organization. The Philistines, who dominated the region of Israel and Canaan, were no match for the jawbone wielded by the powerful arm of Samson, fueled by the Spirit of the Lord. SamsonContinue reading »

“He could work no miracle there, except from curing a few who were ill by laying hands on them” – Mark 6:5 It is stark comment, made by Mark who had witnessed so many signs of power and wonder from Jesus, that in Jesus’ hometown he could not perform any miracles. Matthew softens the stark nature of the comment, in his Gospel, by saying the Jesus would not perform any miracles. But, why not? What prevented Jesus from yet more glorious displays of the power of God? Many detractors of Christianity, in their woeful lack of understanding of faith, point to these passages as evidence of the limited power or, even worse, mercy, of Jesus. Such an unfortunate rendering! Miracles are glimpses of the Kingdom of God and the wondrous power which permeates Kingdom of Heaven. Miracles are the power of God breaking into our realm. However, as page after page of the Bible teaches us, this power will only come us if we have faith and are open toContinue reading »

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT) Samuel told King Saul that God said to attack the Amalekites and completely annihilate them including the women, children, and animals. The battle was waged and the Israelites attacked the Amalekites, just as God had commanded. Unfortunately, they also kept the King of the Amalekites and the best of the animals. As a result, God sent Samuel to deliver the message to Saul that since he had not obeyed, God was removing him from the throne. When Samuel calls Saul on the carpet about not destroying everything, Saul claims he saved the best animals to sacrifice to God. So first he partially obeyed, which is basically saying “I will follow Your instructions, but only the part I want to.” It is the same as the temptation of Eve. God saidContinue reading »

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Friendship Delights – Part Two

Days ago in Rest in Hope, I posted Part One of “Friendship Delights” that shared about the bond of David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul. Another favorite bible friendship story is that of Naomi and Ruth. Naomi’s two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah became widows, as did Naomi. After her husband passed, returning to her homeland, Judah, was Naomi’s mission. Orpah and Ruth told Naomi that they’d go with her to her people. Naomi discouraged them both, but Ruth persisted. She said to Naomi these words from the book of Ruth 1:16 – KJV, “. . . Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:” How touching is that love, loyalty and devotion?

Naomi convinced Orpah to return to her kinfolk, but Ruth refused to be deterred. Off she went with her mother-in-law to a destiny of which she likely had no foreknowledge. Upon reaching and settling in Judah, Ruth listened to her mother-in-law’s wise and timely advice. Subsequently, Ruth gained Boaz as a husband and he gained a jewel of a wife. Ruth conceived and birthed Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Little known is that, according to the genealogy in Matthew 1:5, Rahab, the harlot, — Joshua 2 — was the great-grandmother of David.

Ruth 4:18 – KJV:

Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

Matthew 1:5 – KJV:

. . . And Naasson begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king.

Note: The spellings of the subject names differ in the Old and New Testaments.

I end this with a salute to my nearest and dearest best friend, Arnetta, who has passed on, but memories of her remain solidly in my heart. Ours was a proven and treasured friendship — indeed. The photo that accompanies this piece is of Arnetta and I from “back in the day.”

Abortion has been a topic that has stirred passionate responses from antiquity. While this is a medical process, the procedure often combines the ending of life with severe brutality- for both the unborn and the mother. While technology has made the procedure quicker in the modern era, the methods are frighteningly similar to those used in more ancient periods. One of the most renowned Church Fathers was Tertullian, living around 200 AD. Abortion and infanticide were practices the ancient world knew well and he spoke strongly against them. He said: “Among surgeons’ tools there is a certain instrument that is designed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for first of all opening the uterus and then keeping it open. It also has a circular blade, by which the limbs within the womb are dissected with careful, but unflinching care. Then a copper spike is driven into the unborn to take its life. From this infanticide method, some gave it the name, ‘Killer of the Infant’.” Tertullian, in another article, writes: “Are youContinue reading »

Days ago, on Rest in Hope, I posted “Grain Resisters.” It got lengthier than I’d anticipated so I decided to do a Part Two. Huge admiration extends to honorable folks who make choices to reasonably challenge the status quo. People who aren’t necessarily whistleblowers, but are considered misfits by “popular vote members.” Jesus readily comes to mind. Throughout the gospels, descriptions abound about the nonconformist character of loving and compassionate Jesus. Definitely, he was unapologetically a grain resister who consistently grated on the nerves of the self-righteous folks and others who weren’t enlightened to the message that Jesus taught and lived. Yes, Jesus was largely dismissed, misunderstood and opposed yet he never relaxed his mission even in the face of and subsequent “death.” John the Baptist, too, was a nonconformist. His convictions, actions, demeanor, attire and diet were noted. Definitely, John went against the grain — AND he confronted the king about his indecent relationship with Herodias, his brother’s wife. John lost his head, literally, for his solidly nonconformist posture.Continue reading »

“Blessed be the fruit of your womb” – Deuteronomy 28:4 To follow the Word of God and to follow his instructions is to bring success and life. Moses set before the people of Israel “a blessing and a curse”. Obedience to the Lord and His Word, a dynamic and living entity, brings about numerous blessings in this life and beyond. However, Moses speaks of a promised “curse” upon those who “turn aside” from the words of God. Politicians, who would aspire to run the United States, are trying to pull Christians aside from the Word of God. They pit their authority of this age, fleeting at best, against the eternal power of the Word of God by promising and pandering to those who only want success in this life and have little regard for the Kingdom of God. Politicians are campaigning on pro-abortion platforms, often hidden under the rhetorical title of “reproductive healthcare”. They are offering Christians a dangerous choice and a formidable challenge. Christianity has denounced abortion since theContinue reading »

Recently, I watched a YouTube documentary video titled, Water: The Great Mystery. That program was strikingly interesting. In one part, two bowls of water were placed in front of a dog. The dog chose the spring water, the better of the water choices. I was like, “Wow, how did the dog know?!” Largely, before I viewed that water documentary, I’d taken water for granted. The program taught of many benefits of water — the power of water — the memory of water — the “personality” of water, etc. In the very beginning of the bible, water is mentioned in Genesis 1:2 – KJV, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” In the book of Kings, Naaman dipped in the water of Jordan and was healed of leprosy. 2 Kings 5:14 – KJV, “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying ofContinue reading »

Years ago, I worked with a guy (I’ll call him Dan) who also lived in my community. On occasions, we’d be on the bus at the same time. Dan is a deeply interesting conversationalist with knowledge of various sorts. He and I conversed regularly and both enjoyed our verbal engagements. We all have strengths and weaknesses. One of Dan’s weaknesses was his penchant for being overly critical of people. One day Dan came to sit beside me on the bus. He began to criticize one person after another. Patiently, I listened. When Dan paused long enough for me to get words in without rudely interrupting him, I mentioned that he’d shared about what was wrong with assorted folks. Calmly, I asked, “What’s wrong with you, Dan?” He didn’t answer — obviously, my question angered him. Abruptly, Dan got up and moved to another seat. I didn’t say anything further and that was that. Later, Dan and I continued to engage — neither of us re-visiting our “interesting” chat on theContinue reading »

“Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” -Mark 13:31, Matthew 24:35, Luke 21:33 With these words Jesus established the enduring authority of the Christian faith. Upon these words rests the authority of the Apostolic community and the families of Christian religions that have emerged through the centuries. It is the words of Jesus Christ which form the powerful foundation of belief systems which have lasted over 2000 years.These are words which were validated by the atoning death on the Cross which He endured for us. These words find new life in the Resurrection, in which the Kingdom of God was now opened to us by the breaking of the power of Sin and Death. He paid the price for our sins, redeeming us now and forever in the eyes of God. His words are eternal as are the effects of the Cross and Resurrection, and is our Redemption. Politicians have authority which are attributed by society. The wealth and power which they seek areContinue reading »