One of them days

In the Elvis Presley movie, G.I. Blues, (there I go, dating myself again!) Elvis sings the following song:

Didja’ ever get one of them days, boy

Didja’ ever get one of them days

When nothin’ is right from mornin’ till night

Didja’ ever get one of them days

Well, that was my theme song for yesterday! It actually started the day before with a phone call telling me that I didn’t get the job that I had really wanted. Then yesterday morning started off with finding out that my cat had knocked over a living room lamp, breaking the glass lamp shade into teeny, tiny smithereens all over the couch. While trying to vacuum it all up to make sure that my hubby didn’t get a nasty surprise you- know -where, I ended up getting a glass sliver in my finger.

Later on that morning, I went to the Adult Day Centre where I volunteer and I proceeded to drop a wide variety of things on the floor.

This was followed up by an afternoon phone call from my hubby telling me that he had injured his leg at work and had to be off work for a few days. He had also developed a migraine. ALL of this happened to him before he was to have a phone interview for a new job. He took the interview but was in a lot of pain.

Back at home, the cable, Netflix, and DVD player weren’t working.

All this “joy” was topped with a “cherry” by the receiving of an unpleasant letter from a lawyer regarding a personal matter.  ( I must confess that I felt like “going about like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour” , or slapping someone upside the head at the very least)

All of this” joy” left us looking like two old deflated balloons lying on the couch.

And then I read the following posting on Facebook: “Forget the day’s troubles; Remember the day’s blessings”. This was followed by an email from my Mom (to whom which I of course had to pour out all my frustrations), which said almost the same thing. God trying to tell me something?

I am sure that you have also suffered from “One of them days”. When this happens (and it will) we need to remember the following:

We live in a sin corrupted world:

Gen 3:17  And to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it! The ground is cursed for your sake. In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life.

Rom 8:21  that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Rom 8:22  And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.

Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,

This sin corrupted world is ruled by an evil god (notice the lower case “g”):

2Co 4:4  in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones

1Jn 4:3  and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the antichrist you heard is coming, and even now is already in the world.

Eph 2:2  in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience; ( notice it is “prince” and not “King”)

This god and prince is a believer’s enemy (there is a saying, “know thine enemy”):

Mat 13:37  He answered and said to them, He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man;
Mat 13:38  the field is the world; the good seed are the sons of the kingdom; but the darnel are the sons of the evil one.
Mat 13:39  The enemy who sowed them is the Devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Act 13:10  and said, O son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all craftiness, enemy of all righteousness, will you not stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?

Our enemy works  to destroy us:

1Pe 5:8  Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour

Joh 10:10  The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy

So how does knowing the “who, how and why” of our difficulties help us to deal with those difficulties? We can deal with them because we have our heavenly Father’s promises that we are not alone in our struggles, there is help for here and now and we have a guarantee of victory at the end.

Joh 16:33  I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.

Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36  As it is written, “For Your sake we are killed all the day long. We are counted as sheep of slaughter.”
Rom 8:37  But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.
Rom 8:38  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1Pe 4:7  But the end of all things has drawn near. Therefore be of sound mind, and be sensible to prayers.

1Pe 4:12  Beloved, do not be astonished at the fiery trial which is to try you, as though a strange thing happened to you,
1Pe 4:13  but rejoice according as you are partakers of Christ’s suffering, so that when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1Pe 4:14  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of God and of glory rests on you.

Therefore, when we have “one of those days” we are instructed and encouraged to comply with the following:

Php 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Php 4:7  And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Php 4:8  Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things.

I am off to “think on these things” and “count my blessings”.

May God bless, encourage, comfort and strengthen you during your “one of them days”.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;

Count your blessings, see what God has done;

Count your blessings … name them one by one;

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

How Sweet It Is

Younger readers will probably have no clue when I mention Jackie Gleason and maybe only a faint glimmer for James Taylor. Both these men have a little something in common – they both brought fame to the phrase, “How Sweet It Is”. As I was only a baby (really) when Gleason made it a catch-phrase on his television show, I am not sure of it’s context, but knowing a bit of his reputation, it was probably sarcastic or ironic (or both). However, I do remember James Taylor singing “How Sweet It Is (to be loved by you) – a very nice song, I think.

On Tuesday mornings, I attend a women’s fellowship at a church in town. We chat, pray for each other, snack on goodies (fellowship isn’t complete without goodies!) watch teaching videos or read a Bible study and then we break into smaller discussion groups and share thoughts and feelings. (Guys are going ewwww right about now)

Tuesday afternoons, I drive to a nearby town where my friend, Liisa, opens her home for women’s Bible study. Again we chat, snack on the requisite goodies (always home-baked), pray for each other and study the Bible together.

I am always blessed by the fact that women from different backgrounds, income levels, denominations and Biblical understanding can gather together in peace, love and joy. We share one another’s burdens, weep with one another, laugh with one another, pray together for each other, offer words of encouragement, support, comfort and hopefully some wisdom. We learn and grow together, as women, as humans, as spiritual beings. I almost always come away feeling lighter in my soul and spirit.

Rom 1:11  For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to you for the establishing of you.
Rom 1:12  And this is to be comforted together with you by our mutual faith, both yours and mine

Jas 5:16  Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.

Gal 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the Law of Christ.

Fellowship doesn’t have to be just about a Bible study or even going to church; I have had a lot of fun with my “sistas” on picnics, hikes, shopping trips, craft workshops etc. You can incorporate fellowship into just about every aspect of your life.

Strong’s Concordance defines “Fellowship” as “partnership and participation”. Having this connection with other believers gives you a support structure or network that you can turn to when you need prayer, Godly counsel, encouragement, comfort and support. They can become members of your extended family – after all, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe our own family relationships are not the best, but as sons and daughters of God, we have Jesus Christ as a big brother and we need to follow his example.

1Jn 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Eph 2:22  in whom you also are built together for a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.

Eph 4:15  But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ;
Eph 4:16  Through whom all the body, being rightly formed and united together, by the full working of every part, is increased to the building up of itself in love.

Php 2:1  If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tendernesses and mercies,
Php 2:2  then fulfill my joy, that you may be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind.

11Co 1:9  God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Co 1:10  But I exhort you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Heb 10:24  and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works,
Heb 10:25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Good fellowship – “HOW SWEET IT IS”!

Blessings


Ahh – summertime!

My previous posting was pretty “heavy” going (My head is still spinning) so I thought that I should write something on the lighter side.

Yesterday morning, I was lounging out on my balcony, drinking tea, enjoying the sunshine, listening to the birds and savouring the scent of my herb garden on the breeze.

Later on, my husband and I went for a drive, with the sun roof open and the wind blowing our hair. We stopped at a little restaurant and enjoyed some delicious Greek food. Then we burned off some of the calories as we hiked a new nature trail while the air was scented with the sweet smell of black locust blossoms.

Such simple pleasures give such great joy. I believe that it is in such simple things that we find the true treasures of God – a little bit of heaven on earth!

May your summer be filled with simple pleasures and joy.

Red Rover, Red Rover

(This has been a challenging post to write and not only because of the subject matter. When the sun has been shining, I couldn’t stand to be indoors so I have been going walkabout with my trusty sidekick, my camera. When the weather has been grey and wet, my brain and body have had difficulty functioning properly so I have been unable to concentrate.)

Once upon a time, in days long past, when children used to play outside, we used to play a number of group games which required the forming of teams. Two leaders would take turns choosing team mates from the rag tag group of kids gathered together on the lawn (usually at our house). Of course, the kids who were the strongest and the fastest always got picked first. No kid wanted to be the one that was left to last and hear one leader say to the other, “You can have Johnny/Jenny”.

Do any of you remember what if felt like to stand in the line and wait to be chosen? Have you ever experienced being chosen last, or worse still, not chosen at all? If so, how did that experience make you feel? As a girl, I can distinctly remember being a “wallflower” at school dances and how it made me feel sick in my stomach to watch the boys walk past me to ask someone else.

Belonging to the “not chosen” group can make a person feel unloved, worthless and hopeless. It can also make a person indifferent and/or angry towards the person/persons who are seen to be doing the “choosing”.

If it makes us feel this way about people in the natural world, how does the understanding that God “picks and chooses” who He will “save” make us feel about God? I have personally heard people say, “Why bother worrying about becoming a Christian if God has already decided/chosen whom He will save?” The basic thought being, “There’s no point!” I feel that this kind of thinking must lead to  feelings of anger, frustration, confusion, loss and hopelessness!

Some church denominations teach that God “calls” or “chooses” only certain people to be saved. I think that this particular church doctrine is mainly based on the following scriptures:

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ;
Eph 1:4  according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Eph 1:5  having predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

And:

Rom 8:29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers.
Rom 8:30  But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, those He also justified. And whom He justified, these He also glorified.

And:

Joh 6:44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draw him…

I don’t deny that Scripture actually says those things, but are the words being correctly interpreted or “rightly divided”? How does the content of these scriptures compare with what other scriptures have to say about God’s character and His plan of salvation?

One denominational statement of faith includes the following explanatory comments:

“God did not elect his children based upon the foreknowledge of who would believe but did so according ‘according to the good pleasure of his will'”.

“God’s saving grace is not universal, but particular, given only to those whom God has chosen from eternity.”

“God’s grace, not human decision, is the decisive factor in salvation. Believers do not choose God so much as God chooses believers”.

My study of the scriptures has led me to hold a different understanding; I don’t believe that God plays “Eenie, meenie, minee, moe” with us when it comes to salvation.

First of all, there is the character and nature of God to take into consideration.

Deu 32:4  He is the Rock; His work is perfect. For all His ways are just, a God of faithfulness, and without evil; just and upright is He.

In Isa. 45:21 God calls himself “a just God“.

Webster’s Dictionary includes the following definitions for the word “just” as it is used in the above scriptures:

–  equitable in the distribution of justice; as a just judge.

–  Conformed to rules of justice; doing equal justice.

Impartial; allowing what is due; giving fair representation of character, merit or demerit.

The apostle Peter confirms the description of God as “just”:

Act 10:34  Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Truly I see that God is no respecter of persons;

Meaning, that God does not exhibit partiality. Webster’s Dictionary defines partiality as:

PARTIALITY, n. parshal’ity. Inclination to favor one party or one side of a question more than the other; an undue bias of mind towards one party or side, which is apt to warp the judgment. Partiality springs from the will and affections, rather than from a love of truth and justice.

Since we have already seen that God is described as being “just”, then He must love truth and justice, therefore He can not exhibit partiality. Therefore, I am unable to believe that the last part of the following statement is correctly interpreted: “God did not elect his children based upon the foreknowledge of who would believe but did so according ‘according to the good pleasure of his will‘”.

Another of Webster’s definitions for the word “just” is as follows:

–  True to promises; faithful; as just to one’s word or engagements.

1Jn 2:25  And this is the promise that He has promised us: everlasting life.

The following scriptures reveal God’s plan and promise of salvation:

Joh 3:14  But even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
Joh 3:15  so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.
Joh 3:18  He who believes on Him is not condemned

Act 10:35  but in every nation he who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted with Him.

Rom 10:12  For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call on Him.
Rom 10:13  For everyone, “whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Rom 5:18  Therefore as by one offense sentence came on all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came to all men to justification of life.

In the above noted scriptures, take special notice of the words “whosoever”, “whoever”, “the world”, “He (meaning anyone) who believes”, “every nation”, “all who call”, “all men” and “everyone”. Do those words convey universal grace or “particular” grace? Do those words support the doctrine,“God’s saving grace is not universal, but particular, given only to those whom God has chosen from eternity.”? Or do the above scriptures tell us of a just God who offers universal saving grace to anyone who believes and accepts Jesus?

Do the above noted scriptures, correctly interpreted, show that “human decision” is involved in “choosing” to believe in God and Jesus, or is the church doctrine, “God’s grace, not human decision, is the decisive factor in salvation. Believers do not choose God so much as God chooses believers” correct?

Comparing scripture with scripture, is the church doctrinal statement, ““God did not elect his children based upon the foreknowledge of who would believe” a correct interpretation of scripture? Let’s look at the following scriptures:

2Ti 1:9  Who gave us salvation, marking us out for his purpose, not on account of our works, but in the measure of his purpose and his grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal,… (BBE)

Rom 8:29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers.
“Foreknow” means “to know beforehand”. Could that mean that God knew beforehand who would and who would not believe? Or does it just mean that God “foreknew” that “some” would believe?
Eph 3:11  according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord;
Eph 1:4  according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
I understand this to mean that God chose (chooses) whoever is in Jesus Christ, which means, whoever believes and accepts Jesus as their saviour.
Mat 25:34  Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

So, having looked at God’s character, that of a just and impartial judge, and His plan for the redemption of mankind, as seen in Joh. 3:16,  a plan which He had made before the foundation of the world,  I interpret the scriptures quoted in the beginning of this blog: Eph. 1:3-5; Rom.8:29,30; Joh.6:44, to mean that, while God does choose, who he chooses is anybody who chooses to believe in and accept Jesus Christ as their saviour. And that since God had the plan of redemption ready to put in place before the foundation of the world, that all those who believe have been predestined to be saved.

So who is God choosing?  God chooses anybody who chooses to believe in the plan that God foreordained, foreknew, that is, Jesus Christ; the outcome of that choice –  being predestined to enjoy the benefits of that foreordained plan – salvation.

“9It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began—to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus.

Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 1997 . Tyndale House: Wheaton, Ill.”

Please note that I purposely use the terms “scriptures” and “church doctrine”. I believe that there is an important difference. The scriptures are God’s Word, 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed…”. Webster’s dictionary defines doctrine as: “1. In a general sense, whatever is taught. Hence, a principle or position in any science; whatever is laid down as true by an instructor or master. The doctrines of the gospel are the principles or truths taught by Christ and his apostles. The doctrines of Plato are the principles which he taught. Hence a doctrine may be true or false; it may be a mere tenet or opinion.”  Therefore, “church” doctrine is based upon human “tenant or opinion” of scripture. That is why “The Church”, God’s people, have been divided into so many denominations, and why there have, and continue to be, so many different opinions on the interpretation of God’s Word.

Blessings

PS: I am having difficulty formatting the text on this posting so if it appears confusing, I apologize.