Category Archives: Bible

Love and Then There’s Love

It is easy to say “I love you”, but what does that mean? You could ask a variety of people and it might get a lot of different answers. There are all sorts of theories about love. Human love has a variety of colors and shades.

You could also ask God since he is the author of love.  God’s love is talked about in detail in the Word of God. There is no mistaking the love of God when one experiences it first-hand. It is very different from the world’s conception of love:

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3

Wow, there are some statements in the verses above that sound very loving! This whole section is talking about the love of God as it permeates people’s hearts. The love of God has a recognizable set of tools:

4 Charity suffereth long (King Jimmy language meaning ”having a long fuse’) and is kind (not a gossip, nor mean, snarky or a busybody); charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself (lifting oneself above others), is not puffed up,

Each of us have our own individual qualities, we are not to compare our lives with others. To do so  denies the very essence of what God is all about. When we size ourselves up by others, all hell abounds!

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly (stay in one’s lane), seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil (does not lay guilt and shame at people’s feet); 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity (‘aha I gotcha’, but rejoiceth in the truth (truth is an integral part of love); 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Everything else is false love. The worldly kind of love ultimately brings people down. It may carry expectations that might herald guilt and condemnation and the pointing of fingers down the road. God’s love brings people up and empowers them.  It lifts us up and out of the mud and darkness. Worldly love has potholes and traps, that trip people up. God’s love is freedom and peace. It never disappoints:

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

We are constantly growing in our lives and we mature as we take on values that are sure and unfailing. If we continue to look to God for our answers, he is ready, willing and able to provide them.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 

When you see it you will know it.


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Excusion and Significance

There are two ways that the world wears down people in relationships.  People can either feel excluded (feel like they don’t belong) or if included, shamed and relegated to an insignificant position. God does neither. It is important to understand that when a person feels either way in their relationship with God, something is amiss.

Nobody gets missed by God in John 3:16:

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Nobody is diminished in God’s eyes either. We have release from condemnation and guilt :

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption (sonship), whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

‘The Spirit’ bears witness to our ‘spirit’.  Those who have believe Jesus as Lord and all God provided through His son, receive the gift of holy spirit. We can no more be pushed around if we clearly understand what this means:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

This where our significance really lies. It is our confidence. We no longer have to bow to the current tide of human error and culture as we look to God who so richly supplies.  We can be lifted in a good way to reflect the goodness of God and love others in the same manner. They may not recognize that kind of love right away because it runs counter to the world, but God’s love produces results, it does not return void.

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Free will Choice Again

In I Samuel 8, God told Samuel to listen to the people that were asking for a king to to rule over them. They had specifically said, ” Give us a king to judge us.” (I Samuel 8:6). Samuel prayed to God and God said they were rejecting him and not Samuel. They didn’t want God to reign over them. Additionally, God wanted Samuel to warn them what would happen if they had a king:

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” I Samuel 8:10-18

The Hebrews had decided that the ‘king’ system was what thy needed. They moved away from a theocracy (being governed by God)  and put their trust in the the way the nations around them functioned. That kind of power usually corrupts. Money power and prestige lures rulers away from what’s best for the people. They start living for themselves. It was not so for Samuel. Samuel told them what would happen and they answered:

19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

God had Samuel lay it out before them and gave them the opportunity to choose. The results were not God’s fault, the blame squarely lay on the shoulders of the people.  God gave them freewill choice. There is no blaming God for any misfortune; nor was Samuel to blame. God loves his people and does not want them hurt and forgives them when they are sorry, but if people don’t listen, there is nothing he can do.


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Listen, Stretch Out and Keep

Proverbs 4:20-22  My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

The word ‘attend’ in this verse is pretty straightforward.  It means simply: to listen. God wants us to listen to his words and sayings.

In the book of first Samuel, the children of Israel did not always listen to God.  God spoke to them through the judge Samuel. In the Old Testament that is the way it worked. People did not have the spirit of God working in them and so often they did not recognize God’s workings. When they were frustrated by the Philistines attacks on them they went to Samuel for help:

8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. I Samuel 7:8

Samuel spoke the word to them and sometimes they listened and carried out what was necessary to defeat the enemy.  When they succeeded in thwarting the Philistines, Samuel set up a monument and called it Eben-ezer or ‘stone of help’ as a reminder of what God can do for his people. Reminders are always good if we want to pay attention to them.

The word ‘incline’ means to stretch out, extend or bend.  There is some effort involved in getting to know God’s words. God’s victories just don’t drop out of the sky. However, his words energize the right actions in our hearts to apply to any situation.

In I Samuel 8:4-8, Israel decided they needed something else other than a judge (oops) to rule over Israel. They decided they wanted a king like all the nations around them:

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. 7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

Under the new agreement with God in the New Testament we have the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord.  We are connected to him via the spirit. He isn’t literally seated at the right hand of God, he is figuratively at the right hand of God. ‘Figuratively’ is a metaphor to make a point.  He literally is the Lord of the people called out in Christ. He is not just sitting up high on some cloud waiting for some future event. He is God’s right-hand man. He is at work in us, with us and among us. He is building his church, but his church is not a building made out of mortar and brick. It’s the group people who love God. It is his church (singular).

When Israel followed the examples of the cultures around them and acquired a king, they rejected God. Today we push aside the gods of the culture (and there are many) to follow Jesus Christ, through the Word and with the connection line of the gift of holy spirit. That is the way God has set it up. To understand how this works we need to attend and incline our ears to God’s Word. We have all the resources to do that.


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FaceTime With God

When you really savor the words of the Lord’s Prayer (sometimes called the Our Father), you realize its beauty.  It is actually recorded in scripture in two places (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4),  and therefore is special:

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13

I remember being in one church and praying the Lord’s prayer  where the ‘Amen’ was after the word ‘evil’ and then being in another church where the ‘Amen came after the for ever.  Sometimes people use ‘trespass’ instead of debt, some use ‘heavens’ in one place instead of heaven.  Regardless, looking at the heart of what is being said in this verse, we can see that Jesus was teaching people how to go face to face with God in prayer (prosuche in Greek). We are to approach him as a Father and he is a Father that knows everything we need before we ask him.

‘Hallowed’ means special and holy; we approach our Father respectfully. We don’t have to complain or murmur. God not only is able to bless us, he is willing.

In the Greek translation, the first ‘heaven’ is actually plural. The heavens include the earth. The earth is suspended in the heavens.  God is not a distant God.  Many people view him that way but he is as close as our breath. He is all around us. We are engulfed in his creation.

Just as manna was provided for the children of Israel in the wilderness, God provides for us today, spiritually as well as mentally and physically. For all that he give us in these categories, we probably should owe him, but he has forgiven our lack or debts in all three categories. That’s a lot to shout about and realizing it keeps us tender towards others.

Verse 13 has come into the theological news lately.  For many years people downplayed the devil and his role on this earth. Evil exists, BUT God doesn’t lead us into it!

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: James 1:13

He delivers us out of evil as we pray. It is an important aspect of prayer that we need to recognize.

This prayer taught by Jesus was not supposed to be memorized and repeated over and over. (look up verse 7 to see the context)  It was an example of how people could talk to God in prayer. This is how we do FaceTime with God.


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I Samuel 6

I Samuel 6

After the Philistines took the ark of God, they moved it from Eben-ezer to Ashdod. It was set in the house of Dagon, a Philistine god. I guess they thought “the more the merrier’. According to the text, they sat the Ark right next to Dagon. The next day they found Dagon flat on his face in front of the Ark. The day after that, the same thing happened, only worse. Poor Dagon broke in various places and people were then afraid to visit the house of Dagon.

Wherever the ark went problems occurred so much so they decided to give it back to the Israelites. They kept the ark of 7 months and even when they decided to give it back, they still wanted to leave the option open to keep the trophy. They concocted a plan to find out if the things that had befallen them were punishment by God or just coincidences of life. God is all good and no darkness exists in Him at all.  These idolaters reaped the consequences of their own doings in my opinion.  Evil is as much punishment in and of itself.

They got two oxen who had never been yoked and who had just had baby calves. They made a cart for these oxen to pull and loaded the ark of God up on it. They sent the oxen on down the road. The calves were sent back to their pen. They reasoned that if the oxen went toward a certain Israelite town called Beth-shemesh; then God was returning the ark and they were under the judgement of God.  If the oxen naturally turned back home towards their calves then it was just the happenstance of life.

The oxen went towards the Israelite city. There was still trouble when the ark arrived in the Beth-shemesh.  The people there sent the ark on to Kirath-jearim, which was farther away from the Philistine border. There it remained for 20 years. The people of Israel cried out to God. Why were they constantly being attacked by idolaters?

In I Samuel 7: 3-4 Samuel speaks to them about what needed to be done:

3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. 4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.

Not only were the Philistines having problems, so were the Hebrews. Samuel speaks about strange gods like Baalim and Ashtaroth. The Hebrews had mixed it up with pagan religion and adopted some of the beliefs of their pagan neighbors. Because of this, they didn’t have the clarity and strength to believe that God would deliver them.

This is a great lesson for today. People seek justification of their ways similar to the oxen test. If people who love God start going along with beliefs and practices that are contrary the words of God, they water down their believing, become comfortable with and accept misery as a happenstance of the coincidences of life. The way out of this type of watering down is simply sticking with God by focusing on Him.

Proverbs 4:20-22My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

This is the only way to live a victorious, powerful life. Yes, life happens, but it is our response to it that determines what comes of it. The more we go to God the greater the results.


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Spiritual Awareness

Hebrews 4:12 says that “the Word of God is quick (living) and powerful..” The right word from God at the right time for the right situation is unparalleled in its effects! It is an experience that is life giving!

In I Samuel 3:1, the spiritual environment surrounding God’s people had eroded and it was due to several factors. Things had become sleepy.  Those who were supposed to be looking out for God’s people had let some things slip to the extent that people were effected. There was scandal, and in some cases those that should have known better were thumbing their nose at God. (I Samuel 2:12-25).

Samuel, as a young boy, grew up in the middle of all of it:

And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. I Samuel 3:1

Samuel was committed to God. God never forces anyone to live for him. Everyone has a choice. God will work with those who love him. He knew Samuel’s heart. The word was costly and rare in those days. Open vision or revelation involves hearing from God. Things were not too hot spiritually. God spoke to Samuel.  He wasn’t familiar with receiving revelation from God and thought Eli was calling him:

4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. 5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. I Samuel 3:4-5

This happened 2 more times and finally Eli figured out what was happening:

And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. I Samuel 3: 8b-9a

God had someone who would listen in Samuel:

And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. I Samuel 3:11

God was going to shake things up. Samuel was established as a prophet  (someone who speaks for God) as God let none of his words ‘fall to the ground’ (or fail) I Samuel 3:19

In the New Testament, under the new covenant with God through Jesus Christ, every believer has the capacity to hear from God. It is a tool built into the holy spirit package. The how-to of it is as simple as what Eli told Samuel. Most of the time it is a ‘still small voice’ in our heart. Some people call it a nudge. It is a live and powerful thought. It is a nudge that produces peaceful godly results and flows with the written word to produce the results desired by God.


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