Tuesday, June 30, 2015

something to think about

Let me set the context of this passage...

Stephen, a new convert to following Jesus had been hauled before the Sanhedran because he was accused of blasphemy.

Stephan had made an impassioned speech about Jesus was the Son of God, they crowd went nuts, & stoned Stephen to death.

Saul (who later became Paul, the apostle) was present at the stoning & approved of Stephen'smurder.

Acts 8

A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem;

        and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.

2 (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.)

3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church.

He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.

Here's the thing...

Each time I read this I wonder something...

All the followers of Jesus - new & old - were hanging out in Jerusalem, seemingly not very willing to get on the move.

But this persecution by Saul had cranked up, causing the need for them to escape.

What I have wondered each time I've read this:

     I wonder if God allowed &/or used the persecution of Saul & his cohort to scatter the followers of Jesus so that they would start telling other people about Jesus?

     And I've wondered if God not only allows &/or uses uncomfortable situations that cause us to move out of our comfortable places,

          placing us in different surrounding where we can share the love of Jesus with new & different people?

Something to think about...

Monday, June 29, 2015

lots of stuff to think about

This is Jesus speaking here.

There is just SO MUCH here - read it slowly, read it more than once.

What would our lives look like if we became & did all these things Jesus tells us to be & do?

Luke 6

 "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!

     Do good to those who hate you.

     28 Bless those who curse you.

     Pray for those who hurt you.

29 If someone slaps you on one cheek,

     offer the other cheek also.

If someone demands your coat,

     offer your shirt also.

30 Give to anyone who asks;

        and when things are taken away from you,

        don't try to get them back.

31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

32 "If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that?

        Even sinners love those who love them!

33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit?

        Even sinners do that much!

34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit?

        Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

35 "Love your enemies!

        Do good to them.

        Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.

Then your reward from heaven will be very great,

     and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High,

     for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

 You must be compassionate,

        just as your Father is compassionate.

37 "Do not judge others,

        and you will not be judged.

Do not condemn others,

     or it will all come back against you.

Forgive others,

     and you will be forgiven.
38 Give,

     and you will receive.

    Your gift will return to you in full;

          pressed down,

          shaken together to make room for more,

          running over,

          and poured into your lap.

The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."

39 Then Jesus gave the following illustration:

        "Can one blind person lead another?

        Won't they both fall into a ditch?
40 Students are not greater than their teacher.

        But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.


 "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye* when you have a log in your own?

 How can you think of saying, 'Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,'

        when you can't see past the log in your own eye?


        First get rid of the log in your own eye;

        then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Luke 5

 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector's booth.

"Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor.

Many of Levi's fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.

30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus' disciples,

        "Why do you eat and drink with such scum?"

31 Jesus answered them,

        "Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do.

        32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,

                 but those who know they are sinners and need to repent."

I've said it before in this blog - we who follow Jesus a lot of the time isolate ourselves away from the non-Christian world.

All our friends are Christians.

Many of the places we do business with are Christians.

Much of what we read, listen to, or watch in the media is produced by Christians.

We seldom, if ever, make connections with non-believers.

We stay away from them, never developing the kind of relationship(s) with them that would draw them into belief in Jesus.

Where would each of us be if the person(s) who drew us into a relationship with them that eventually ended up with us following Jesus had isolated from non-Christians as we are?

Each & every day we live, we in some way or other come in contact with people that those Pharisees back them & many of our precious & prissy Christians friends & authenticators would describe as "scum".

And all of those people have one thing in common, whether they realize it or not...

     ...they're all longing for a connection with God.

And you & I are the only ones who can connect them with Jesus.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Philippians 4:6-7

Don't worry about anything;

Don't worry about anything;

Don't worry about anything;

Don't worry about anything;

instead, pray about everything.

instead, pray about everything.

instead, pray about everything.

Tell God what you need,

Tell God what you need,

Tell God what you need,

Tell God what you need,

Tell God what you need,

Tell God what you need,

& thank Him for all He has done.

& thank Him for all He has done.

& thank Him for all He has done.

& thank Him for all He has done.

& thank Him for all He has done.

& thank Him for all He has done.

If you do this,

If you do this,

If you do this,

If you do this,

If you do this,

you will experience God's peace,

you will experience God's peace,

you will experience God's peace,

you will experience God's peace,

you will experience God's peace,

you will experience God's peace,

which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

His peace will guard your hearts & minds

His peace will guard your hearts & minds

His peace will guard your hearts & minds

His peace will guard your hearts & minds

His peace will guard your hearts & minds

His peace will guard your hearts & minds

His peace will guard your hearts & minds

as you live in Christ Jesus.

as you live in Christ Jesus.

as you live in Christ Jesus.

as you live in Christ Jesus.

as you live in Christ Jesus.

as you live in Christ Jesus.

It all depends on how you read it.

It all depends on how you read it.

It all depends on how you read it.

It all depends on how you read it.

It all depends on how you read it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

who's rubbed off on me?

This passage happens right after Peter & John had just healed the man who had been born lame & begged each day by the Temple gate.

Acts 4

 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees.

 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead.

3 They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning.

4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of believers now totaled about 5,000 men, not counting women and children.

5 The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem.

6 Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest.

7 They brought in the two disciples and demanded,

     "By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?"

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them,

     "Rulers and elders of our people,9 are we being questioned today because we've done a good deed for a crippled man?

     Do you want to know how he was healed?

     10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,

           the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.

     11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,

            'The stone that you builders rejected
             has now become the cornerstone.'

12 There is salvation in no one else!

God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved."

13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John,

        for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.

They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

Here's the deal - the council recognized Pater & John as 2 men who'd been with Jesus.

Each time I read that I wonder - when people are around me or you, is there something about the quality of our personality that indicates that we've spent time in the presence of Jesus.

Is there something of a cumulative effect in who we are from our reading the Word of God & listening out for anything He might say through it.

Is there something of the essence of Spirit of Jesus about us - & do people see that, do they see Him?

They may not quantify it as Jesus, but they would say there is something about us, something out of the ordinary (in my case besides my craziness! ;-) )

Is that a bit of a stretch to take from this passage?

Maybe, maybe not.

The bottom line is that each time I read that section of chapter 4 in Acts, I always wonder the same thing - do people see Jesus in me simply because I'm around Him - has Jesus rubbed off on me?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Peter healing

This event in the life of Peter & John right after Pentecost captures me on different levels.

I have what may be a strange request - a request I've never made in this blog, I think...

     After reading this event in Acts, if you feel God wants you to tell me something that relates to me about this story, please don't hesitate to do so.

Acts 3

 Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o'clock prayer service.

 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in.

Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple.

3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.

4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said,

     "Look at us!"

     5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money.

 But Peter said,

     "I don't have any silver or gold for you.

     But I'll give you what I have.

     In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!"

7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up.

And as he did, the man's feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.

8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk!

Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God.

10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!

11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon's Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

12 Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd.

"People of Israel," he said, "what is so surprising about this?

And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness?

13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this.

This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate's decision to release him.

 You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer.

15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.

And we are witnesses of this fact!

16 "Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before.

Faith in Jesus' name has healed him before your very eyes.

17 "Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance.

18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things.

19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.

 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord,

        and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.

21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

being a servant

 "I am the Lord's servant, & I am willing to accept whatever He wants." Luke 2:38

This is Mary, the mother of Jesus, speaking to the angel, Gabriel, just as she is told that she, a virgin, will conceive & carry the child who is the son of God.

Remember Mary is considered to be in her teens when this happens.

This virgin conceiving a baby w/o a man was a never-before-heard-of thing when Gabriel springs this on her.

But that being the case, Mary still says she's good to go with being the mother, however it happens.

She says she is in a serving role with the Lord, so whatever He has in mind, she's down with it.

Pretty amazing for someone in their teens.

In the last 5 years, I think I've learned some things about being a servant.

Our success orientation toward being a servant is not correct.

     Lots of the time, if we're doing what the Lord wants, we may not see the outcome.

     Also, the results of us being & doing what He wants often don't show any results, successful or not.

Servants don't have a say in what's going on - they serve - they don't have input into the situation.

People who serve sometimes are not understood.

     Sometimes being & doing what God leads us to be & do is sometimes not supported or understood by our friends, family, authenticators, influencers, or encouragers.

A servant is often clueless as to the details of their service.

     They just serve - they don't get to ask who, what, where, when, or how.

     They may not ever know the reasons behind what they're told to be & do until they get to heaven & see the big picture.

Sometimes what a servant is directed to be & do is scary, seemingly impossible to pull off, &/or doesn't make any sense.

     But as a servant, one who is under the direction of someone else, is still obedient in the face of those obstacles.

"No" is not in the vocabulary of a servant.

     Servants are good to go with whatever they are mandated to be & do.

     We tell the Lord that we are His to command, & that we'll be & do whatever it is He wants.

     It is understood that then deciding to not be & do it is off the table.

We are not responsible for the consequences of our obedience - God is.

     Our only responsibility is to continue to say yes - God both precedes & follows us (Psalm 139:5).

     Iow, God is preparing the way, & mopping up behind us.

That's just some of what I think are the implications of being "a servant of the Lord."

And, trust me, if you ever hear someone say in a sanguine or super holy voice, "All I want to be is a servant of the Lord" usually hasn't ever been one!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

my help

This morning, I don't know who needs to read this psalm besides me.

But I know some of you do.

So, read it - the psalmist is talking about you, as well as me.

( This video by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is a perfect vid for this blog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtZX7a44fMI  )

Psalm 121

 I look up to the mountains—

  does my help come from there?

 My help comes from the LORD,

  who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;

  the one who watches over you will not slumber.

 Indeed, he who watches over Israel

  never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The LORD himself watches over you!

  The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.

 The sun will not harm you by day,

  nor the moon at night.

7 The LORD keeps you from all harm

  and watches over your life.

 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,

  both now and forever.

Monday, June 22, 2015

holding on

Some days, when nothing particularly stands out on the pages of the chapters I read, I reread these passages - passages I feellike God has given me to hold on to during 2015.

Maybe one or some or all will be something you can hold on to in your situation...

Don't worry about anything;

     instead, pray about everything.

Tell God what you need,

      and thank him for all he has done.

7 Then you will experience God's peace,

     which exceeds anything we can understand.

His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

You will keep on guiding me with your counsel,

  leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

  I desire you more than anything on earth.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,

  but God remains the strength of my heart;

  he is mine forever.

Psalm 73:24-26

No matter what happens,

      always be thankful,

for this is God's will for those who follow Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

For God is not unjust.

He will not forget how hard you have worked for him

     and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers,

     as you still do.

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts,

     in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

Hebrews 6:10-11

With God's help, we will do mighty things,

     for He will trample down our foes.

Psalm 108:13

And when you are old, I will still be there,

     carrying you.

When your limbs are grow tired,
     your eyes are weak,

     & your hair is silvery gray,

     I will carry you

     as I always have.

     I will carry you & save you.

Isaiah 46:4 (The Voice)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm, containing 176 verses.

This psalm is chock full of all kinds of good stuff.

Here's just some of it...

Psalm 119

2 Happy are those who obey (the Lord's) decrees & search for Him with all their hearts.

5 Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!

8a Please don't give up on me!

11 I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

29a Keep me from lying to myself...

30 I have chosen to be faithful;

     I have determined to live by Your laws.

31 I cling to your degrees.

     don't let me be put to shame!

32 If You will help me, I will run to follow Your commands

33 Teach me, O Lord, to follow every one of Your principles.

37 Turn my eyes from worthless things;

     & give me life through Your word.

39 Help me to abandon my shameful ways;

     Your laws are all I want in life.

64 O lord, the earth is full of Your unfailing love;

     teach me Your principles.

65 You have done many good things for me, Lord,

     just as You promised.

66 I believe in Your commands'

     now teach me good judgement & knowledge.

71 The suffering you sent me was good for me,

     for it taught me  to pay attention to Your principles.

73 You made me; You created me.

     Now give me the sense to follow Your commands.

75 I know, O Lord, Your decisions are fair;

     You disciplined me because I needed it.

83 I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke, exhausted from waiting.

86a All Your commands are trustworthy.

91 Your laws remain true today,

     for everything serves Your plans.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet & a light for my path.

107 I have suffered much, O Lord;

     restore my life again, just as you promised.

109 My life constantly hangs in the balance;

     but I will not stop obeying You.

114 You are my refuge & my shield;

     Your word is my only source of hope.

116 Lord, sustain me as You promised, that I may live!

     Do not let my hope be crushed.

135 Guide my steps by Your word;

     so i will not be overcome by evil.

145 I pray with all my heart;

     answer me, Lord!

146 I cry out to You;

     save me, that I may obey Your decrees.

147 I rise early, before the sun is up;

     I cry out for help & put my hope in Your words.

148 I stay awake through the night, thinking about Your promise.

176 I have wandered away like a sheep;

     come & find me,

     for I have not forgotten Your commands.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

4 words

(This blog is from yesterday - it was sitting in my draft bin & didn't get published - sorry)

Mark 12

 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate.

He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked,

     "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

29 Jesus replied,

     "The most important commandment is this: '

      Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD.

 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.'

31 The second is equally important:

             'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

     No other commandment is greater than these."

32 The teacher of religious law replied,

        "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.

33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength,

        and to love my neighbor as myself.

        This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law."

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him,

        "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

I've said it before, I'll say it again...

There you have it.

Jesus boils the who thing down for us into 4 words...

Love God, love others.

He didn't heap anything else on top of it.

He was asked what is the greatest commandment / mandate / expression of how God wants us to live.

And He boiled it down to 4 words...

There we have it folks.

How many of us are doing it?

who do we trust, really?

It is better to trust the Lord than put confidence in people.

It is better to trust the Lord than put confidence in princes.

Psalm 118: 8 - 9

In the last 2or 3 decades since the rise of evangelical influence in the political areas in local, state, & federal government, I've often wondered if we've put more trust in "princes" - people in high government positions - to further the Kingdom agenda,  than in the Lord, His power, & His timing.

I've wondered that perhaps we're spending more time, effort, energy, & money trying to legislate than evangelize.

I wonder sometimes if we spent more of that time, effort, energy, & money on bringing people to know about Jesus & connecting with Him, that maybe a lot of this things we feel duty bound to legislate would take care of themselves.

It has been said by people much smarter than me that if John & Charles Wesley had not instigated the revival they led in Great Britain the late 1700's, the revolution that would have occurred would have made the French Revolution look like a Sunday School picnic.

Just a thought...

Now, don't flame me or crank up the political rhetoric on me here.

I'll just delete those comments.

I'm not trying to curtail your right to free speech.

Just exercising my right delete it.

This blog is not a political statement, just sharing something I have wondered about for over 3 decades.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

it's all about love

For the apostle, John, it was all about love.

It didn't matter what the subject, it always came back to something about love.

This is one of John's most powerful statements about how love affects us, & is expressed by us, if we believe in Jesus.

If what John says here is true, how then should we live & relate to those around us?

If you haven't read 1 John, give it a read. It's at the back of the New Testament, right before Jude & Revelation.

1 John 4

 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another,

     for love comes from God.

Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.

 But anyone who does not love does not know God,

     for God is love.

9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

 This is real love...

        ...not that we loved God,

        but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much,

        we surely ought to love each other.

12 No one has ever seen God.

But if we love each other,

     God lives in us,

     and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.

14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them,

        and they live in God.

16 We know how much God loves us,

        and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love,

     and all who live in love live in God,

     and God lives in them.

17 And as we live in God,

        our love grows more perfect.

So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment,

     but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear,

        because perfect love expels all fear.

If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

19 We love each other because he loved us first.

20 If someone says, "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister,* that person is a liar;

        for if we don't love people we can see,

        how can we love God,

        whom we cannot see?

 And he has given us this command:

        Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

loving one another

I think this passage pretty much speaks for itself...

1 John 3

 This is the message you have heard from the beginning:

       We should love one another.

12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother.

And why did he kill him?

     Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.

 So don't be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

  14 If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life.

But a person who has no love is still dead.

15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart.

And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them.

  16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.

         So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God's love be in that person?

18 Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other;

        let us show the truth by our actions.

19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth,

        so we will be confident when we stand before God.

20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if we don't feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.

22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

23 And this is his commandment:

        We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,

        and love one another, just as he commanded us.

24 Those who obey God's commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them.

And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2 thoughts

1 John 2

 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.

But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father.

He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins;

     and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.

4 If someone claims, "I know God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.

5 But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him.

     That is how we know we are living in him.

6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

John puts forth 2 thoughts here...

The first thing John says is that Jesus offers His sinless life as a fitting offering to God for you & me, and for everyone else in the world.

I've heard it illustrated this way...

    I break the law by speeding/

    I go before a judge having been charged with speeding & admit I was speeding.

    He hands down a fine for breaking that law.

    Then, knowing I don't have any money, the judge comes down off the bench & pays my fine.

Is that an oversimplification?

Sin & God cannot coexist because God is so blindingly holy.

Our sinfulness cannot coexist with God - like trying to mix oil & water.

Even though we can admit to God that we're sinful, that's not enough, because we have nothing to offer as payment for the consequences of that sinfulness.

Jesus came down out of heaven, lived among us a perfect life, & offer to God His perfect life as payment for the consequences of our sins.

Did any of that make any sense?

I understand it, but just because I do doesn't mean everyone else will.

Anyway, hopefully I quantified that whole situation enough to make it understandable, at least a little bit.

The second thing John says is that if we really are a Christ follower, then we'll obey Him, being & doing what He indicates He wants us to be & do.

And how do we know what He wants us to be & do?

All we have to do is look at Jesus' life - that will probably tell us most clearly how we are to be & what we are to do in our lives.

So, there you have it.

Or at least that seems to me what John is saying here.

It's 2 really big things - 2 things that were pretty revolutionary in their concept back then.

People had to do all kinds of things to make amends to their different gods & goddesses to make it possible to connect with them.

Jesus (who is God) offers His life as the way for us to make that connection.

gods back then (& now) didn't do that - we were the ones stuck with making it right.

And proof that we are followers of our god, then we must obey Him &live like Him.

Gods & goddesses back then were hardly living examples of all that was good & pure in the world.

That was (& is) one of the many uniquenesses of Christianity - our God IS the living example of all that is good & pure.

ok, I'm rambling. sorry. I'm shutting up now...

Monday, June 15, 2015

2 passages

I couldn't decide which of these two passages I'd share this morning.

So, I'm sharing them both! ;-)

The first one is Jesus speaking to a crowd about what it means to follow Him.

 Mark 8

 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said,

        "If any of you wants to be my follower,

         you must turn from your selfish ambition,

         take up your cross,

         and follow me.

35 If you try to hang on to your life,

       you will lose it.

But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News,

     you will save it.

36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

      37 Is anything worth more than your soul?

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days,

        the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

Whenever I read this passage, I always think of so many people who "gained the whole world" but may have lost their own souls.


This next passage begins with John talking about the personhood of Jesus, & then moves into how we then should live in that personhood.

1 John 1

 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen.

We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands.

He is the Word of life.

2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us,

     and we have seen him.

And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life.

     He was with the Father,

     and then he was revealed to us.

3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us.

And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you:

     God is light,

     and there is no darkness in him at all.

6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness;

      we are not practicing the truth.

7 But if we are living in the light,

     as God is in the light,

     then we have fellowship with each other,

     and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

 If we claim we have no sin,

     we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

9 But if we confess our sins to him,

     he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins

     and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

10 If we claim we have not sinned,

      we are calling God a liar

      and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Today, there is no such thing as sin.

All situations & realities are relative, & are up for interpretation.

There's all kinds of excuses & reasons given for who & what we all our.

We're "living our own truth."

Or "that was then, this is now."

And "there are no absolutes, except there are no absolutes" - which is a profoundly self-negating statement ;-) LOL

John says here that we all sin.

But there is a way out p- if we admit it to ourselves & God, God will forgive us.

But most people today don't buy into the concept of sinning, let alone needing to be forgiven of it.

When I read verse 10 this morning, I thought of the many people in my life who just don't see that a lot of what what they're doing is a sin.

If there's one thing I've become more & more aware of as I've grown older is how sinful I really am.

But our world & our culture seem to teach the opposite - that whatever works for us works.

It seems that every day I see people who are playing fast & loose with their lives...

     we just don't seem to grasp the truth that God is so infinitely holy that if we ever drew close to it, it would just incinerate us.

     And God & sin cannot co-exist - like oil & water, but raised to an infinite level.

I'm rambling... sorry.

Anyway, I hoe these 2 towering passages have spoken to you in same way & sat some level.

Read through them again, just for good measure, & listen out for what God may whisper to you through them.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Such a psalm of encouragement & hope, something we all need & constantly find in short supply...

Psalm 112

 Praise the LORD!

How joyful are those who fear the LORD

  and delight in obeying his commands.

 Their children will be successful everywhere;

  an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.

 They themselves will be wealthy,

  and their good deeds will last forever.

 Light shines in the darkness for the godly.

  They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

 Good comes to those who lend money generously

  and conduct their business fairly.

 Such people will not be overcome by evil.

  Those who are righteous will be long remembered.

 They do not fear bad news;

  they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.

 They are confident and fearless

  and can face their foes triumphantly.

 They share freely and give generously to those in need.

  Their good deeds will be remembered forever.

  They will have influence and honor.

 The wicked will see this and be infuriated.

  They will grind their teeth in anger;

  they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Psalm 111

1 Praise the LORD!

I will thank the LORD with all my heart

  as I meet with his godly people.

2 How amazing are the deeds of the LORD!

  All who delight in him should ponder them.

3 Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.

  His righteousness never fails.

4 He causes us to remember his wonderful works.

  How gracious and merciful is our LORD!

5 He gives food to those who fear him;

  he always remembers his covenant.

6 He has shown his great power to his people

  by giving them the lands of other nations.

7 All he does is just and good,

  and all his commandments are trustworthy.

8 They are forever true,

  to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.

9 He has paid a full ransom for his people.

  He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.

  What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!

10 Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom.

  All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

Praise him forever!

Friday, June 12, 2015

6 words

Mark 5

 Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore.

 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived.

        When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet,23 pleading fervently with him.

        "My little daughter is dying," he said. "Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live."

 Jesus went with him,

        and all the people followed, crowding around him.

25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding.

26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors,

      and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them,

      but she had gotten no better.

      In fact, she had gotten worse.

27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.

       28 For she thought to herself, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed."

29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my robe?"

 His disciples said to him, "Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, 'Who touched me?'"

32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it.

33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done.

 And he said to her,

        "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over."

 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue.

       They told him, "Your daughter is dead. There's no use troubling the Teacher now."

 But Jesus overheard* them and said to Jairus,

        "Don't be afraid. Just trust me."

 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn't let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James).

38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing.

39 He went inside and asked, "Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn't dead; she's only asleep."

  40 The crowd laughed at him.

But he made them all leave, and he took the girl's father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying.

 Holding her hand, he said to her, "Talitha koum," which means "Little girl, get up!"

42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around!

They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.

43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened,

        and then he told them to give her something to eat.

I wonder what Jairus thought when Jesus said to him those 6 words, "Don't be afraid.Just trust me."

Jairus' servants had just told his little girl was dead.

And then Jesus said just 6 words to Jairus.

And then they all went to Jairus' home.

And Jesus brought Jairus' daughter back to life.

When it was all said & done, & Jesus & the crowds had left, & it was just Jairus, his wife, & their little girl, I wonder what Jairus said to his wife.

I wonder what he was thinking.

Something dead in his life had been brought back to life.

Maybe those 6 words of Jesus are speaking to someone right now.

Is there something dead in any of your life - something precious?

Could Jesus be speaking to you today about that dead thing in your life?

Maybe He's saying to you, "Don't be afraid. Just trust Me."

And maybe, if you do, He'll bring it back to life.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

before we get all uppity

Mark 4

 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples,

      "Let's cross to the other side of the lake."

36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).

37 But soon a fierce storm came up.

High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

  38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.

The disciples woke him up, shouting,

     "Teacher, don't you care that we're going to drown?"

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Silence! Be still!"

Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.

40 Then he asked them,

       "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified.

       "Who is this man?" they asked each other.

       "Even the wind and waves obey him!"

We all get all smug & uppity about how stupid the disciples were to be terrified during the storm - I mean, they had the Son of God in the boat with them!

But consider this...

Aren't we the same way when the "storms of life" hit us?

Don't we scream our heads off at God, basically saying & feeling the same thing the disciple did - that we're sinking here & God's not snapping His fingers & making all this bad stuff go away?

Aren't we as stupid as the disciples in when we act like God, who is with us, will let us be destroyed in the "storms" in our life?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


We don't like to suffer.

We don't like to talk about suffering.

We don't want to think as Christ followers we should suffer - it seems we have adopted a very hit, middle class attitude about that - that if we suffer for being Christ followers, we must be doing something wrong.

Uhm... I don't think that kind of thinking will hold up.

Why? Well, because who & what we are in Jesus is antithetical to the rest of the world.

There are so many directions our world is heading, especially in the last few years, that make that reality even more & more stark.

And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse.

We need to be careful in our attempts to be in sync with the rest of the world's thinking...

     ...because much of what the world thinks is completely opposite to what we as followers of Jesus.

We need to be careful as we try to connect to the rest of the world that we try not to sync with the world out of fear...

     ...out of fear that things might get a little rough for us if we say no to certain was of thinking or acting.

Anyway, read some of the things Peter had to say about suffering because we following Jesus.

As I read this, I was juxtaposing it in contrast to the way the world is thinking right now about a lot of things...

1 Peter 4

 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other,

      for love covers a multitude of sins.

9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.

Use them well to serve one another.

11 Do you have the gift of speaking?

      Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.

Do you have the gift of helping others?

     Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.

Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.

12 Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through,

      as if something strange were happening to you.

 Instead, be very glad;

        for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering,

        so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian,

      for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.

15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs.

16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.

       Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!

17 For the time has come for judgment,

      and it must begin with God's household.

And if judgment begins with us,

     what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God's Good News?

 And also,

"If the righteous are barely saved,
  what will happen to godless sinners?"

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God,

      keep on doing what is right,

      and trust your lives to the God who created you,

      for he will never fail you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

our normal

Mark 2

 Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him.

14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector's booth.

"Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

So Levi got up and followed him.

15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,

      along with many tax collectors

      and other disreputable sinners.

(There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)

16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples,

        "Why does he eat with such scum?"

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them,

        "Healthy people don't need a doctor...

         ...sick people do.

        I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,

            but those who know they are sinners."

I've talked previously in this blog about the fact that "notorious sinners" showed up at this feast Levi put on.

And I've asked the question about whether "notorious sinners" like to hang out with us.

And whether we like to hang out with "notorious sinners", or are we more concerned about what our friends might think about that.

I noticed something this morning, though...

It says, "there were many people of this kind (notorious sinners) among Jesus' followers."

iow, not only did they show up at Levi's feast, but some of these characters were among the crowd of folks who traveled along with Him.

Back then, there was a tradition of wander teachers or rabbi's, & people would travel with these rabbi's.

I guess they were like groupies?

Anyway, some of these notorious sinner groupies were also camp followers of Jesus.

This took some guts, because the people who were not "notorious sinners" would have treated these sinner pretty badly.

     (sound like today, huh?)

But Jesus seems okay with these sinners to be there because they continued to be there.

Here's the question...

In our day to day life, as we move about, are we the kind of person people want to be around, especially people who we think of as pretty spectacular sinners?

Is there a quality of our spirit & outlook on life that draws people to hang around us - maybe not up close & personal, but at least hang around us?

Because if we believe we are "in Jesus & He is in us" then shouldn't that scenario of even really sinful people hang around us be our normal?

Monday, June 8, 2015

my way or the highway

2 King 5

 The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the LORD had given Aram great victories.

     But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.*

2 At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel,

     and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman's wife as a maid.

 One day the girl said to her mistress,

     "I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy."

4 So Naaman told the king what the young girl from Israel had said.

5 "Go and visit the prophet," the king of Aram told him. "I will send a letter of introduction for you to take to the king of Israel."

So Naaman started out, carrying as gifts 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing.

 The letter to the king of Israel said: "With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy."

7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and said,

     "This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? I can see that he's just trying to pick a fight with me."

8 But when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes in dismay, he sent this message to him:

     "Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel."

9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha's house.

10 But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message:

     "Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River.

     Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy."

11 But Naaman became angry and stalked away.

       "I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!" he said.

       "I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the LORD his God and heal me!

 Aren't the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel?

       Why shouldn't I wash in them and be healed?"

So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.

13 But his officers tried to reason with him and said,

       "Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn't you have done it?

       So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, 'Go and wash and be cured!'"

 So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him.

And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child's, and he was healed!

Naaman had certain expectations...

      That God's servant would treat Him a certain respectful way.

      And that God would heal him in a way that he, Naaman, that was acceptable.

But it was only when Naaman did exactly what the prophet told him to do that brought about the healing Naaman desired.

We're the same way.

We have expectations of how God should do things for, through, & in us.

We think we know how God will respond in any given situation, when, where, & thru who.

And if He doesn't move in the ways we think He should, we get all cranky & pouty about it!

Something along the line of "I want what I want, & I want it NOW!"

     (Sounds like a typical 3 year old!)

But God will not allow us to put Him in a box by deciding how things should be, & how things should happen.

As it says in Isaiah 55:8

      "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD.

      "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine."

It is only when we throw away our preconceived ideas & expectations that God will come through with His favor.

(I think I just said something prophetic for my life! I thought I'd not only quit putting God in a box, but had thrown away my box!)

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Matthew 28

 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,

        baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.

And be sure of this:

     I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

For each of us, what are the realities of this challenge of Jesus?

Couldn't it mean to talk to that person we know at work, simply sharing with him or her what connecting with God through Jesus had done for us, personally?

     Or maybe a cashier at the grocery we use?

     Or that person who cuts our hair?

     Or the person who lives next to us, or across the street?

     Or a family member?

     Or a friend we've know for a long time - or maybe a short time?

     Or... well.. you get the picture.

For some people may mean picking up & moving across town,

     or across state,

     or across the country.

For some it may mean going outside our country.

For some going to another place is certainly His will for them.

But I've often wondered if for the vast majority of us, maybe it means simply reaching out to the people around us.

     There's certainly plenty of them who have no connection with God.

Perhaps the other thing that we should glean from this is equally as important as the mandate to go...

     ...that Jesus will be with us in the going.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

us rich folks

Before reading this, bear in mind that America is the richest nation that's ever been.

And all things being equal, those of us who live here in America are considered the richest population on earth.

ok, remember all that as we read this...
I just share what stands out...

James 5

 Look here, you rich people:

     Weep and groan with anguish

     because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you.
2 Your wealth is rotting away,

     and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags.
3 Your gold and silver have become worthless.

The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire.

This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment.

 For listen!

     Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay.

     The wages you held back cry out against you.

     The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury,

       satisfying your every desire.

You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.
6 You have condemned and killed innocent people,

       who do not resist you.

Friday, June 5, 2015

harsh words

James really lets us have it in chapter 4.

It's just 17 verses, but you'd better buckle up!

James 4

 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?

Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you?

 You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it.

You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it,

     so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.

Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it.

3 And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong;

     you want only what will give you pleasure.

  4 You adulterers!

Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?

I say it again:

     If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.

5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?

6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires.

As the Scriptures say,

     "God opposes the proud
      but favors the humble."

  7 So humble yourselves before God.

Resist the devil,

     and he will flee from you.

8 Come close to God,

     and God will come close to you.

Wash your hands, you sinners;

     purify your hearts,

     for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

     9 Let there be tears for what you have done.

     Let there be sorrow and deep grief.

     Let there be sadness instead of laughter,

     and gloom instead of joy.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord,

      and he will lift you up in honor.

11 Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters.

 If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law.

But your job is to obey the law,

     not to judge whether it applies to you.

 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge.

He alone has the power to save or to destroy.

So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

13 Look here, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit."

14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?

      Your life is like the morning fog—it's here a little while, then it's gone.

15 What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that."

16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans,

      and all such boasting is evil.

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

read & heed

This is Jesus talking here in this passage.

Read this, & then juxtapose it with a prevalent attitude towards low-income / no-income poor.

Jesus speaks pretty plainly about which attitude He espouses,

     what is the appropriate behavior & attitude,

     as well as the consequences for both groups & behaviors & attitudes.

He doesn't give us any wiggle room in the matter.

Matthew 25

 "But when the Son of Man comes in his glory,

        and all the angels with him,

        then he will sit upon his glorious throne.

32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence,

        and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

33 He will place the sheep at his right hand

        and the goats at his left.

34 "Then the King will say to those on his right,

        'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.

35 For I was hungry,

     and you fed me.

I was thirsty,

     and you gave me a drink.

I was a stranger,

     and you invited me into your home.

 I was naked,

     and you gave me clothing.

I was sick,

     and you cared for me.

I was in prison,

     and you visited me.'

37 "Then these righteous ones will reply,

        'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?

        Or thirsty and give you something to drink?

        38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality?

        Or naked and give you clothing?

       39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

40 "And the King will say,

        'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

41 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say,

        'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.

42 For I was hungry,

     and you didn't feed me.

I was thirsty,

     and you didn't give me a drink.

43 I was a stranger,

     and you didn't invite me into your home.

I was naked,

     and you didn't give me clothing.

I was sick and in prison,

     and you didn't visit me.'

44 "Then they will reply,

        'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'

45 "And he will answer,

        'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'

 "And they will go away into eternal punishment,

        but the righteous will go into eternal life."

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Who was it who used to say,"if you don't know what to say, you can at least be thankful"?
Sometimes, when the world seems pretty crazy...

I know, I know - when does the world ever seem NOT crazy?


Sometimes, when the world seems crazier than its normal crazy, the best thing to be & do is be thankful.

Psalm 100

 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!

2   Worship the LORD with gladness.

  Come before him, singing with joy.

 Acknowledge that the LORD is God!

  He made us, and we are his.

  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

  go into his courts with praise.

  Give thanks to him and praise his name.

 For the LORD is good.

  His unfailing love continues forever,

  and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

James 1

The book of James, written to Jewish Christians, is just chock full of all kinds of good stuff.

Here's what stands out for me in the first chapter.

Maybe it will speak to you, too...

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4 So let it grow,

     for when your endurance is fully developed,

     you will be perfect and complete,

     needing nothing.

5 If you need wisdom,

     ask our generous God,

     and he will give it to you.

He will not rebuke you for asking.

 But when you ask him,

     be sure that your faith is in God alone.

Do not waver,

     for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
     7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world,

          and they are unstable in everything they do.


12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.

        Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, "God is tempting me."

God is never tempted to do wrong,

     and he never tempts anyone else.

 Temptation comes from our own desires,

       which entice us and drag us away.
15 These desires give birth to sinful actions.

      And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

7 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father,

     who created all the lights in the heavens.

     He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word.

And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

19b ...be quick to listen,

     slow to speak,

     and slow to get angry.

20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives,

      and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts,

      for it has the power to save your souls.


 But don't just listen to God's word.

     You must do what it says.

     Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

23 For if you listen to the word and don't obey,

      it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.

24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free,

          and if you do what it says

          and don't forget what you heard,

          then God will bless you for doing it.

  26 If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means...

       caring for orphans and widows in their distress

        and refusing to let the world corrupt you.