Friday, February 26, 2016

Matthew 15.9
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(KJV)

Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.(NLT)

The Disciples had not washed their hands, according to Rabbinic tradition, so the Pharisees confronted Jesus about this lack of attention to their laws.  Jesus responded by pointing out their hypocrisy in following more closely their man-made laws than the actual truth of God's law.  The Pharisees thought that they honored God by following their own ideas rather than living according to the revealed truth in God's covenant He had made with them.  They were self deceived and actually quite arrogant to think that their traditions took higher ground than God's truth.

Considering specifically the verse above, let us think about OUR worship.  Do we follow the traditions of man and think we've done our "duty" or do we truly seek the face of God through His truth?  Traditions:

Singing BEFORE the preaching
Church on Sunday mornings
Services last an hour or not much more.
Christmas, Easter(we are not told Biblically to observe either)
Focusing more upon how we dress than what's in our hearts
Taking up an offering during the music portion of the service

Getting the idea yet?  How many of these things do we do the way we do them and by doing them in that way, think that we have impressed God?  According to Jesus, following the teachings of man rather than of God makes us hypocrites and vain.  We congratulate ourselves and our worship is hollow when we exalt the ideas of man over the doctrines of God's Word.

Our response to Jesus' teaching ought to be to search our hearts and know why we do the things we do or do not do.  When we search our hearts and find the traditions of men pushing the truth of God's Word into second place or completely out, our proper response is not to justify ourselves but rather repent(quit following man's ways) and return unto the Truth, God's Way.  We do this best specifically by submitting ourselves to Jesus and His righteousness.  We come to Him and His blood justifies us and this is especially important since we in all sincerity cannot justify ourselves.

You haven't done a thing if you've neglected the truth of God's Word while following precisely the precepts of man.  If you want your actions to matter, to account for something more than immediate gratification, seek Jesus in spirit and in truth.  Honor His Word above the words of men.  Seek Him through your heart and not by your deeds.

PS:  When you truly give Jesus your heart, He gives your deeds eternal purpose and value.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Way Back Wednesday

We have considered today's topic during the last year but we usually learn by repetition and today is a good day for that to happen.  Most people do not give the calendar's compilation too much thought.  Truly, about the only time we are date concerned is Leap Year, holidays and that dreaded time change, which DOES NOT add time to your day.

Julius Caesar had given us a calendar but the true problem with that calendar, it was several minutes longer than the actual year, would reveal itself in about a thousand years.  Every 400 years, the Julian Calendar would be off by 3 extra days.  By 1582, the calendar was off by 14 original days and was missing the Spring and Fall equinox by 10 days.  This was important because Easter is determined by the Spring Equinox.  This would be like us celebrating Christmas December 11.  It just would not "feel" right but to the Catholic Church, the exact day was extremely important and to some, it would be just outright wrong.

On this date in 1582, Pope Gregory issued the "order" that in October of that year, October 4th would be followed by October 15th in all Catholic countries.  The uneducated protested and wanted their "eleven" days back but that would not happen.  England would not adopt the new calendar until the year 1752 in which the American Colonies would also adopt it.  China, Russia and Japan would not adopt it until the 20th century which aided international business and important dates recognition.

We follow what is known as the Gregorian Calendar and it was given to us 434 years ago today though we didn't switch for almost another 200 years.

source:  christianity(dot)com
I am going to speak more technically now.

One of the things important to us today is to understand that Easter is seldom on the actual date the Resurrection actually took place.  Easter is a moveable holiday and is dependent upon the full moon and the Spring Equinox.  Our calendar is a solar calendar and does not align with the lunar calendar accounting for the difference in the date for Easter.  True Passover seldom aligns itself with Easter as well.  The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar(based on the moon).  The Jewish calendar adds an extra month when necessary to keep the Jewish Feasts aligned with the lunar cycle.  This means that the moon will ALWAYS be in the same place on a Jewish Holiday and if your calendar is lunar, this keeps the consistency throughout the years as time passes.  While Sunday is the first day of the week and is the actual day of the Resurrection, the date of the Resurrection is seldom near our celebration.  This has to do with the discrepancy between the Lunar Calendar, Solar Calendar and how the seven days of the week fit year.  Thus, it is possible to have Passover on a Monday, which if we are studying the last week of Christ's life would not fit the "days" listed by the Gospels by any shape. 

Passover is always on Nisan 15 irrespective to what "day" of the week that may be.  Each month of the Jewish calendar is very similar.  The 15th is a full moon because it is 14 days after the New Moon which is the first day of a Jewish month.  Thus every Jewish month has a full moon on the 15th and a new moon on the 1st.  The Jewish Feast Calendar is a LUNAR calendar.

Easter is determined for the SOLAR calendar by finding the FIRST full moon AFTER Vernal Equinox(Spring Solstice), March 20th.  The first Sunday AFTER the first full moon is Easter.  That is why it moves around because a solar calendar(365.25 days) is not "cleanly" divisible by the lunar calendar in which a month can be 29 or 30 days long depending upon the moon's position when Earth reaches the equinox.  This also explains why Mardi Gras does not fall upon the same date every year.  Same day, yes, but same date, nope.  Mardi Gras occurs 47 days before Easter but if you live in SW Louisiana, you know there are only 40 days for Lent. There are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.  Ash Wednesday begins Lent for the Catholic Church but Sunday is a day to be celebrated, NOT fasted upon so it does not contribute to the 40 days of Lent.

Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday                                   = 46 days.
46 acutal days between Lent minus 6 Sundays during Lent =40 days.

Hope this helps a little in understand why we do what we do.
A Tune For Tuesday

According to her own words, there is more to the story behind this song than what she tells.  As of yet, Search Engines and myself have been unable to locate the rest of the story.  But what she does share will give you new insight whenever you sing or hear this song.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Luke 22:32
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

There is a common theme with both of these verses.  Those(we) who have been comforted have been enabled to comfort others going through troubles.  Too often, we keep our struggles and victories to ourselves rather than seeking to comfort someone else facing something similar to what we faced.  Perhaps we do this because we do not want them to know that we too have struggled and struggle.  Perhaps we do this because we are afraid they may say, "How could you know what I am going through?!" Perhaps this is all because WE do not realize that other people struggle, even our heroes, and perhaps WE have responded to someone before that they could not possibly know what WE were facing.  All of these "perhaps" are just excuses.  God's Word teaches us that we are to use the comfort that was given to us in our pain to comfort someone else in pain.  We are to share the tender mercies that have been poured upon us.
One final note for the passages listed.  In both instances, suffering came about because of a relationship with Christ.  It would be good for us to take note of why we are suffering.  Is it because we are simply reaping the consequences of sin(a life apart from Christ) or is it because of our relationship with Jesus Christ?  Why am I doing what I am doing?  For me?  or for Christ?

Way Back Wednesday

It would be difficult to find a human venture where success or failures of the past are not built upon.  It would be difficult to find a human venture where maths and sciences of the past are not utilized by those in the present.  In short, there is nothing that we do that is truly unique.  Solomon is quoted as saying, "there is nothing new under the sun".  If you can read, someone taught you to read but even earlier, someone put together the letter system whereby you form your words.  We build upon the works of those who have preceded us.

Eusebius is a popular name among Church historians.  While not all of his beliefs would be held up as true, he was so meticulous in his writings at quoting others and referencing their works that many modern scholars use him precisely because of the fact that they can learn what men who preceded Eusebius had taught and believed.

Eusebius had a teacher named Pamphilius.  Pamphilius was also a scholar that studied the writings of earlier Christians and referenced their works.  Pamphilius accurately copied Scripture so that he could give them to men and women, and his students.  He lived the Gospel he taught as well as demonstrating true brotherly love by caring for the slave as his brother.  He taught brotherly love to his students and greatly impacted their lives.

Idolatry was being practiced in Pamphilius' town and one of his students challenged the idol worship of the local governor.  The local governor had the student tortured and killed along with other Christians.  The governor had Pamphilius arrested and when he refused to practice idolatry, he was tortured and thrown into prison.  As dangerous as it was, Eusebius continued to visit his teacher in prison and together they wrote works and studies that Eusebius would continue to build upon.
One year and four months after Pamphilius' arrest, a new governor ascended to the governorship.  He ordered that Pamphilius be killed and 1707 years ago this week, that order was carried out.  Maybe his life was cut short but his work was not because he had invested in and tutored Eusebius.

We can continue the work of Christ by building upon the One Firm Foundation.  In doing so, we are building upon the works of those prior to us.  From another point of view, their work continues through us as we follow what we were taught.  Our boasting of "our accomplishment" without naming all of those from whom we've learned is like a quarterback boasting of his superior skills without mentioning the linemen that protected him and the men that caught his passes.  No man is an island and humility is the antidote for avoiding a fall or destruction.

 A Tune For Tuesday

From the author's own pen:

“My inspiration over the years has just come from my personal experience”, says Ralph. “Loneliness, pain, anguish, and sorrow – I’ve experienced all of that. And when I write about the amazing strength that comes from experiencing God’s love, I know that on a daily basis. I don’t know how many notes I’ve got left in my pencil, but I know I want them used to glorify God and present His message to the world!”(Source)