Genesis 1:31
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (New International Version-NIV)

Truly Gods vast creation, landscape, wildlife and man is beautiful beyond description.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Precious Prince And Son, 5/28/2014

Several days ago I posted an article entitled " My Dear Precious Princess and Daughter " This posting " My Precious Prince and Son " is the counter part to that and was prepared by Grand Ma Jan for a function at church several years ago. Again, I do not remember the source of the words but it had special meaning for so many then & now.

I hope this brings some encouragement to someone.

Grandpa Bill

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Dear Precious Princess And Daughter, 5/18/2014

The following was prepared by Grand Ma Jan for a function at church several years ago. I do not remember the source of the words but it had special meaning for so many then & now.

I hope this brings a little encouragement to you.

Grandpa Bill

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weekly Bible Study, West Chester, OH., May 17, 2014

      Lord open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of your word. Amen. 

 Hello and welcome to this weeks bible study. This study will discuss The Great Commission as given by Jesus Christ and how we are to obey it. This is a lesson I taught 13 years ago and the applications that we can draw from it can and have filled volumes but for now we will only hit a few highlights.

We tend to take seriously the last words of someone we love dearly. Naturally, we want to believe that what people speak with their last bit of energy and breath reflects what is uppermost in their minds. Among the last appearances and words of Jesus are found in Matthew chapter 28 verses 16 - 20. It is the final appearance recorded in Matthew. Jesus' words in Acts chapter 1 verse 8 express the same commission in terms of being a witness, but both commissions are essentially the same. A similar commission is found in Mark, Luke and John. All of Jesus' appearances occurred within a 40 day period between his resurrection and his ascension. The main point in the verses is Jesus' commission to be witnesses to people of all nations and to make disciples of them.

In the references mentioned above are a couple of word we need to look at a little closer. Commission and witness. These are word we use and hear often. When we think of commission we are most likely thinking in terms of money. That is how much commission do we receive for selling a particular item such as a car, house or any number of products. In the case of selling a house we want to know how much commission is the agent going to charge us for finding a buyer for our house. A commission can also refer to a situation such as to receive a commission as an officer in the military. It also has the meaning of a command to do thus and so and that is what Jesus had in mind here when he issued the commission to be  witnesses. The other word is the one I just used and that is witness. We hear this word almost daily in news casts, movies, books and news papers we read. Exactly who and what is a witness? It is the attesting to a fact, a statement or evidence that an event happened. We hear reports that the police do not have any witnesses to the shooting meaning no one saw the event. Witness may be by a person or physical evidence. It may be a person witnessing another person signing a document. This of necessity requires both parties to be there at the time. Another example may be " this field has witnessed many battles " or " witness the nail scares in the hands of Jesus ". In the situation here Jesus is passing on the requirement to be witnesses that is to tell others what they have seen and the impact on themselves.  Now lets turn to the Scriptures and take a look at Matthew chapter 28: verses 16 - 20.

   Verse 16: Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

   Verse 17: And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.

   Verse 18: And Jesus came and spake unto them,saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

   Verse 19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

   Verse 20: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. A'men.

When we talk about a commission/ command to do something there is one obvious action that must occur. What is it? Doesn't a person have to take action / obey. If you are going to receive a commission for a sale don't you have to do something? Sure you have to take action. You have to sell the item. That taking action is the same as obeying a command. So why did the disciples go to Galilee? Think back to the time of Jesus' resurrection and the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and found the tomb empty. The woman went and told the disciples what they had seen and that they were told  to go and tell the disciples to go into Galilee. Now there are two examples of obedience. The woman went as directed as did the disciples.

How are believers commanded to obey the risen Lord? The command is to go, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey. So, how about us today? Does this commission apply to us today? If it does then what do we do about it?  If we don't obey the commission then, why not? I realize I am asking these questions and you can not respond to me but I am asking you to think to yourself just as I am why we don't obey the Great Commission. Let me get a little more personal and ask why don't I obey the Great Commission? In other words what is my excuse? Lets look at a few possible answers:

      Witnessing is not my gift. ( It is no a gift to tell what happened to you )
      All my friends are already Christians. ( What about classmates, coworkers, neighbors?)
      Don't know what to say. ( You are telling what happened to you. )
      It's the pastors' and missionaries' job. ( Really? Is that what Jesus said? )
      Apathy. ( ???? )
      I'm ashamed to let the public know I am a Christian. ( Christ said he would not be ashamed       of you )
      I think a persons religion and beliefs are purely personal and should not be expressed.               ( Really? Is that what Jesus said? )
      Too busy.( ???? )
      Fear. ( Christ said the Holy Spirit would be with you. The Spirit and God are one and the             same and you are afraid. )
      I don't think one person's belief should be forced upon another. ( No one is forcing anything         on another person. Simply telling them what Christ did for you is not forcing. )

I would ask you to stop and seriously think about the above listing. I dare you to rewrite the Great Commission using the excuses listed above. Remember what a witness is.

Lets just take one situation which I am sure is applicable in every church today and that is a desperate need for more workers. I suspect you have heard your pastor or priest comment on the number of workers needed, When asked to serve Jesus through the church, how do we respond? How often do we use our time selfishly? How often are we prayerfully open to serve when asked? Have you ever asked if there is anything you can do to help? It is unbelievable the number of tasks that need someone to fulfill them in our churches. I am sure there are people in the child care area that are desperate for help as they hold two crying babies and have another small child wanting attention. They only have one lap and two arms.

Now lets talk a little about the Great Commission and break it down into pieces. What specifically does it tell us to do?

   GO.  This has the meaning of as you go or as you are going. They are to go not for the sake of going but go with a purpose to set up the christian religion in all places. Specifically for the disciples they were being sent out into the world to spread the good news about Jesus. We as individuals today may be called of God to go as missionaries perhaps even to a foreign land. If we are not called of God to go as a missionary we are none the less required to tell others about Jesus saving grace. The key here is, it is a command it is not optional. The command was then and today is presented to Christians not unbelievers. The point is to spread the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ and encourage people to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior

   MAKE DISCIPLES. The meaning is to make disciples of all nations. This means to teach. The meaning seems to be people groups not political-geographical regions. Lets make sure we understand just what a disciple is. A pupil, follower, or adherent of any teacher or school of religion, learning, art, etc. So you see you can be and are a disciple of many things but there was only one thing Jesus told his followers to be disciples for and that was teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. 

   BAPTISE THEM. Baptism is an public outward expression of an inner action of your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Showing you are not ashamed of your relationship with Christ. Baptism is an integral part of making disciples. What authority is used to baptise a believer? You baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

   TEACH THEM. New disciples ( believers ) need to be taught. The Great Commission embraces both the outreach task of making new converts and the in reach of teaching and training them. You can become a Christian immediately but the process of becoming a disciple does not happen overnight. It takes a time of teaching, learning, maturing, and obeying following the conversion experience. It is really a life long process.

Lets go back and consider some of the reasons we do not witness and/or make disciples in light of Jesus statement that he would be with us all the time. This also means in all places from now to the end of time. In the final analysis if we truly believe that he is with us and he will help us then we don't have much of a leg to stand on for not being witnesses and making disciples. Do we?

Lets say for example you believe the command to witness and make disciples and you would really like to obey but you just don't know quite how. Lets assume that is so. Here are  some specific, practical ways you can obey Christ in this regard.

   First. Prayer. You have heard the expression " don't just sit there do something ". Well lets turn this around and say " don't just do something, sit there ". In other words assume your preferred position and pray. There is no more powerful way to make an impact on world and local missions than through committed prayer and intercession. Great Commission Christians are praying. You can become a part of evangelizing of the world without leaving the comfort of your home. You can do it without training, You don't have to go out into public, You don't have to speak in public, You don't have to be in a little group. Just do it alone in your home. Just talk to God and express what is on your mind and what you want and are asking for.

   Second. Love the world at your doorstep. God commands Christians to show hospitality to strangers and there are thousands in our areas. Do you have the gift of hospitality? Why not sponsor a refugee family? Teach English as a second language. Be a friendship family to a foreign student. I know of one situation where a foreign student was invited to dinner at a friends home and was desperate in trying to figure out how to explain that he did not drink wine when it would be offered to him. He did not drink any kind of alcohol and his understanding was that everyone drank wine with their meal in the United States. He was much relieved to find out that his host did not drink any alcohol either. By one estimate 80% of the international students living in the United States have never seen the inside of an American home. Why? They have never been invited. Our opportunity to love them, lead them to Christ and disciple them is an open door. When they go home this door may never open again to them but if we lead them to Christ they take him back home with them.

   Third. Take a walk on the wild side. Consider taking a short week or two vacation and go on a mission trip here in the United States or on an short overseas project.  

   Fourth. Give money to an effective charity. Charity is another word for love. Be generous in your gifts to your church and especially any projects that are designated as mission projects. In this regard there is a lot of work yet to be done. We have done a lot but more work is necessary. It is estimated that more than 2,000 nations ( ethnic people groups ) with 1.7 billion people, nearly a third of the human race has yet to hear the gospel in any form.

Now lets focus our attention on the only passage in the Bible that notes the time between Jesus resurrection and His ascension. Jesus spent time with his disciples, giving instructions and giving proof that He was truly the risen Lord and that He was alive. This is found in Acts chapter 1 verses 6,7 and 8.

     VERSE 6: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?

     VERSE 7: And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
      VERSE 8: But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem , and in all of Judea, and in  Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Verse 6 is interesting from many respects but especially from the point of view that the Messiah had been prophesied for generations and the Israelite people looked forward to that day but when Jesus came as the Messiah he was rejected by Israel. But those like the disciples accepted him as the Messiah but they really thought that he would restore the kingdom and take them out from under the oppressive rule of the Romans. So this question is quite logical for them to ask. You notice how he side stepped their question and assigned them the task of being witnesses to the end of the earth. Jesus indicated even he did not know the answer to their question. Why do you think Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem? The text gives us the answer, ( to receive the promised gift of the Father -- the outpouring of the Holy Spirit/ Holy Ghost ). 

Why was this important or necessary? Wouldn't it be enough for them to just tell other people what they had experienced and what they had seen themselves? They had been there so they had first hand eye witness testimony. After all, isn't that what a witness does? ( No, simply telling what they had seen and witnessed without the concurrent witness of the Holy Spirit through them would not result in leading others to become disciples ). It is important to note here that we do the witnessing the Holy Spirit does the convicting and leading to salvation.

Where did Jesus tell them to be witnesses? ( Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and reaching to the ends of the earth).  Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were local areas known to the disciples so is there a meaning of those places for us today. Yes there is. Jerusalem was their home just like where I live is my Jerusalem. Judea was the equivalent of my county or perhaps my state. Samaria was the equivalent of other areas of the United  States in relation to me and especially where people live that I have nothing in common with. They may have a different ethnic background and strange cultural habits. Samaritans and Jews both hated each other. A similar dislike occurred here in the United States between the North and South over the issue of slavery. One side or the other could be the others Samaria. And of course the ends of the earth is the rest of the world. Regardless of where you live or go in the world there are numerous barriers Christians must cross to bring the good news to a lost and dying world. We need to pray that God would remove from us attitudes and ideas that prevent us from being effective witnesses.

As we close this discussion lets take away the following thoughts:

   1. Every Christian is called to be involved in his/her church's mission to make disciples of all           nations.

   2. New believers need to experience baptism and be taught the things of Christ.

   3. Apart from the Holy Spirit's power Christians cannot witness effectively.

   4. The Lord expects every church to have an agenda that includes helping send the gospel to         all people groups while maintaining a consistent witness to people living nearby.

I know from teaching on this subject before there are still those who will say I am just not qualified to make such a testimony to others who I know do not know about Christ and probably have no desire to know anything about him. I remind you again a witness is some one who can testify to what they did, saw, heard and what it means to them. Witnesses tell what Jesus did for them. That's all. The Holy Spirit takes over from there. It is not our job nor do we have the ability to save anyone we can only lead them to the one who can save them. I believe the statistics show that it takes about 7 or 8 witnessing events before  the person witnessed to accepts Christ as their Savior. So you should look on it as planting a seed, others are doing the watering  and someone finally harvests. Keep praying, sowing seeds and watering and you have obeyed the Great Commission. We are just a simple beggar telling others where we found food.

Closing prayer. Father we thank you for who you are and what you have done for us. Help us to obey the Great Commission and remove any attitudes and ideas that prevent us from being effective witnesses for you. Amen.

Grandpa Bill

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weekly Bible Study, West Chester, OH., May 10, 2014

Lord open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of your word. Amen. 

Hello and welcome to this weeks bible study. This study will discuss a lot of about leaders and leadership. This is a lesson I taught some 13 years ago and it is as applicable today as it was then. God's lessons are timeless. It is also applicable as we enter into a time when we start to think about selecting new political leaders for our local, state and national arena. Leaders and leadership is a subject I could spend weeks discussing the meaning and application of  as well as examples of good and not so good leaders. It is a subject that is near and dear to my heart as I have spent my entire life in leadership roles. It is a subject that has tremendous application to our families, communities, schools, churches, the business world and certainly the political arena. There is general confusion about the difference between managers and leaders. Managers try to solve problems while leaders try to create momentum. Leaders develop leaders regardless of the field of endeavor whether it be in business, church, sports or the home. Yes, parents turn out strong leaders, politicians and church leaders.  Now lets jump into this weeks study. This week we will be looking in the Old Testament books of Numbers and Joshua.

We saw in a previous study that the Israelites were not allowed to cross the Jordan River and enter into Canaan ( The Promised Land ) because of doubt, grumbling and disobedience. This generation was made to turn and enter the dessert and wander around in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses continued to lead the people through this long period and God continued to guide them and protect and provide for them. Boy you talk about having a leadership problem on your hands think about Moses. Both he and the people knew they had to wander around for 40 years just waiting for everyone ( the older people to die ). Just think about that. Do you suppose as they approached the end of the 40 year-year period they said we only have 200 more to go. What about it? Do you think anyone was keeping tract. Personally I think they were.

Moses for one knew that he was not going to be allowed to enter the promised land so who was to to be the new leader? Where and how would the new leader be picked? What qualifications should he have? These are questions we would be interested in right? In just a moment we will look and see what Moses did and what he asked for.

What is the secular world - view of a leader? Look for leaders who follow the world's standards for success, who are popular, and who follow the world's way of thinking. For the most part a leaders character is unimportant. What about some examples? I am sure you can think of dozens. Political personalities, corrupt business people, out of step religious leaders and average citizens who do not lead honest  and moral lives.  Now lets look and see what God might say about the leaders he wants. Also, we talk about wanting leaders who reflect God's character. Lets try to figure out just what that means as we look at Numbers chapter 27, verses 12 - 20.

   Verse 12: And the Lord said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.

   Verse 13: And when thou hast seen it, thou shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.

   Verse 14: For ye rebelled against my commandment in the dessert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.
   Verse 15: And Moses spake unto the Lord saying,

   Verse 16: Let the Lord, the God of the spirit of all flesh, set a man over the congregation.

   Verse 17:  Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.

   Verse 18: And the Lord said unto Moses, Take the Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;

   Verse 19: And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.

   Verse 20 : And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

I suppose you might be wondering why is Moses not being allowed to Go into the promised land. That is a good question. In verse 14 above it reads that Moses rebelled against God's command in the wilderness of Zin. This was a situation where God instructed Moses to speak to " the rock " but Moses struck the rock twice in producing water. God considered the action of Moses as rebellion against his command. You see God takes very seriously his commands. And for this rebellion Moses is only allowed to look over into Canaan and not enter it. 

So what did Moses ask for in a leader? The first part of verse 17 is referring to a military leader who will lead them out and conquer Canaan. A man to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in so they won't be without a shepherd. The second part is talking about His people as sheep who need a shepherd. The shepherd is to take care of the sheep. He is to lead, feed and defend the flock. I don't know if you know anything about sheep but they are not the cute cuddle things you see pictured. They are the dumbest of all animals. You can't leave them alone. They will wander off and get lost. Cattle will come back in at night to eat but not sheep.You literally have to take them out and bring them back in. You have to protect them. As a child on the farm that was one of my jobs to go out in the evening and find the sheep and bring them back into the barn. Generally they were in a field of 30 to 40 acres so it was not so bad but oh the problem if some one left a gate open and they wandered into the woods because we had several acres of wooded area. Fortunately  we did not have many sheep.

Here in this passage we see the Spiritual authority for leadership as opposed to the world view for leadership. God selected, appointed and directed how the new leader should be prepared and announced to the people. So Moses made no attempt to appoint a new leader himself. He prayed for God to appoint a new leader and God answered his prayer. God said of Joshua " a man in whom is the spirit " a phrase indicating his divine endowment for leadership.

Does this passage have any meaning for us today? Lets look at a church situation. Number 1 we should pray for help in selecting leaders. We should ask God to reveal to us the people we should have as pastor, deacons, teachers, workers in general in the church and we should pray that God would at the same time be stirring the spirit of the person to be selected..

OK lets look at the political arena. Should we involve God in this selection process? I think so! But how do we do that? First of all pray for God to raise up Godly candidates who support Christian ideas. This means we should start praying about this months if not years in advance of election cycles. Then at election time we should spend some time in prayer asking God to help us in selecting which candidate to vote for and which proposition to vote for or against. We have to realize that the best candidate might just be in the political party that is not the one we normally support. This is of great importance because the top elected officials appoint numerous judges and cabinet officials so if they are not godly they will have no inclination in appointing godly people to fill these important positions. You say, what difference does it make? I can only look at our country today and see the answer.

So we see that God selected Joshua to be the new leader of the Israelites. Now what did he tell Moses to do? First - Lay hands on him and this signifies divine choice and the Spirit on the person. Let me make it clear at this point that the laying on of hands does not make him spirit filled nor does it give Joshua any special powers. It simply  indicates a succession of leadership or partnership in an enterprise. The laying on of hands is still done today in various ordination services. Second - Set Joshua  before Eleazar the priest, ( Eleazar replaced Aaron upon his death ). This further gave emphasis to the fact that Joshua was God's chosen man. Third - Moses was to set Joshua before the entire congregation and to give him a charge in their sight. The requirement to " give him a charge "  ( command ) again is still practiced in ordination services in our churches today. It simply means to tell " charge " the individual to trust in God and to take all decision before God to help in determining the proper course of action and to be courageous.

It is interesting to me that before the Israelites went into Canaan they sent 12 spies over to check out the land. If you recall the story 10 of the spies came back with a negative report about how big and cruel the people were and they would surely defeat Israel. But 2 spies came back with very positive and glowing reports about the land. These two spies were Joshua and Caleb. Now Joshua is selected to lead the nation. Also, Caleb was one of the older generation that got to go into the promised land. Joshua was Moses aide for years. He was mentored by Moses and prepared to be a leader. This brings up an interesting point - Are you mentoring anyone? If not why not?

Why do you suppose that Moses was to place Joshua before the entire congregation?  These actions were to ensure that everyone understood that God had named Joshua to be their new leader and they were to be obedient to the Lord and Joshua. Most churches do this when ordaining new deacons, pastors and key positions in the church.

It is important to realize that this was going to be a new experience for the children of Israel. A new leader. His style would be different. He would react to situations differently than Moses did. I am sure you have worked at places where you had a new boss. Or the company may have a new CEO at the top. You immediately  wonder how things are going to chance. They surely will change but will the change be for the better or worse in your eyes. A new leader is not called to replace the former leader but to use his God given talents and abilities to fulfil God's call. When Thomas Jefferson presented his credentials as the United States Minister to France, the French premier said, " I see you have come to replace Benjamin Franklin " who had been very popular with the French people. Jefferson wisely replied, " I have come to succeed him. No one can replace him. "

I have been on both sides of the change in leadership and I always enjoyed being the new leader rather than wondering what the new leader was going to be like. I especially enjoyed evaluating the situation to see what was working and what needed to be improved upon. I never liked the idea of coming in and totally changing things. That only disrupts people and creates strife. However, I have seen situations where new leaders have come in and totally revamped everything pointing out how bad the operation was before as they instituted their way of doing business. Folks that is now leadership that is change for change sake and personal glorification at the expense of the former leader.

Now lets look at another item that is a character of God- servant hood and we will now turn to the Book of Joshua, Chapter 1: verses 1 - 3.

   Verse 1: Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses minister, saying,

   Verse 2: Moses my servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

   Verse 3: Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

When you think about all that the people of Israel had been through you can readily see that the death of Moses was a very traumatic time for the people. They had grumbled against him but he was the only leader they had known. Moses was uniquely qualified to lead them out of Egypt. Now Joshua had this unique qualities to lead them into Canaan. I can just imagine all the activity of organizing the people and getting them ready to go over the river into Jordan. They had been traveling for 40 years. Making camp for a few days. Breaking camp and move on to another place. But this breaking of camp and getting ready to travel was different. This move had the prospect of getting them " home " Sure it may take a few more days but the end is in sight now. The excitement must have been tremendous. 

In the passage we just looked at what did God promise Joshua? ( Verse 3 ). Isn't this the same thing God promised Moses? Yes. Both Moses and Joshua were servants of God. They were different yet they had one thing in common and that was the desire to serve God. And this also made them servant - leaders of God's people. A servant leader points not to himself but to God.

Another one of the items of God's character is courage. Now lets look at the next passage. Joshua chapter 1: verses 5 - 8.

   Verse 5: There shall not be any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses , so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

   Verse: 6. Be strong and of good courage; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

   Verse 7: Only be strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whither soever thou goest.

Verse 8: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

If these word sound familiar they are because they convey the same thought  Moses used in his charge to Joshua. Also note that there are three main themes that run through these verses. ( 1. be strong and of good courage. (2. The Assurance of God's presence and power in Joshua's life and (3. that victory will come as a result of the first two. These same promises are available to us today. As we discussed earlier in our study of promises there are conditions placed on the promises. These same conditions apply to us today as they did to Moses and Joshua and that condition is obedience to the Scriptures. Joshua had been Moses aide for years so he was certainly familiar with the law and what was required. We have to be careful when we try to apply these words today because we almost always aspire them to mean material prosperity and worldly success. And of course that could apply however; these words in the Old Testament almost never were used to mean financial success. They spoke of success in life's proper endeavor. In our materialistic society today we seem to think that we can't be happy and successful unless we have a very large bank account big cars and houses.

The point is that godly leaders know and do what God says in his Word. They meditate on God's Word day and night. They live by it and they teach others to do the same. Living a Christian life today is not easy in our sinful world. It never has been but it is more difficult today than ever before. Just think a number of years ago you had to watch where you went and perhaps who you were with but today every evil influence is right in your home. It is the television and the computer. You and your children can participate visually in the vilest of activities and never have to worry about your neighbors or church members knowing about it. And with liberal court rulings it is getting worse. Leaders must set the right example. To do that they must live in the Word of God. All Christians should do the same. In this way, the people follow God as he reveals Himself in His Word. I know what you are thinking this just isn't possible to walk around all day with the bible in one hand and working with the other. That isn't what is suggested. Daily read the Word of God. You might have a few scriptures memorized and as you go through the day you bring them to mind as you confront difficult situations. The same thing apply to prayer. We can't spend all day in prayer but we can call on God when needed. The prayer does not have to be formal or lengthy. In a confrontation just say in your mind " God help me respond " or in a time of danger " God save me " , or " Protect " me. You get the idea?  Now we come to another item we identify as a character of God - Trustworthiness. Lets check this out in Joshua Chapter 1: verses 16 and 17.

   Verse 16: And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and wither soever thou sendest us, we will go.

   Verse 17: According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee; only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.

What group of people is talking here? Obviously Joshua has given the people some instruction or directions because they are answering him. These were the Israelites who had chosen to stay and settle on the east side of the Jordan river and not cross over into Canaan. This group represented 2 1/2 tribes of the Israelites. Moses had told them they could stay on the east side but when the rest of the people crossed over the fighting men of the 2 1/2 tribes must go with them to help in any fighting that ensued and they could return when the Promised land was secured. The Tribe of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh were the ones who chose to settle on the east side of the Jordan and not cross over into Canaan.

The obvious question that comes to mind is why might they not be so inclined to follow through with their commitment? Well think about it. Actually they were home. Moses told them they could stay on the east side. I am sure many if not most of them had started putting down roots and this was home. I have this land to develop. Crops to raise. Flocks to take care of. They could easily used them and many more excuses but they keep their word and their commitment to help the other tribes of Israel. Their word to Joshua indicate they recognized him as a trustworthy leader as was Moses. Leaders must be trustworthy or else one will follow them. John Maxwell in his leadership courses makes the statement that I dearly love. He says that as a leader if you look behind you and no one is there you are just out talking a walk.

In all lessons from the Word of God there are many applications that we can make but for this study lets consider the following about Godly Leaders:

   1. When a new leader is needed, pray that the Lord will reveal him.
   2. When a new leader is called, present him as the one whom God called.
   3. A godly leader is a servant - leader who serves God and the people.
   4. The courage and strength of a godly leader comes from God's presence and power.
   5.  A godly leader lives by the word of God.
   6.  A godly leader is trustworthy and should be trusted.

In closing I love the lives of Moses and Joshua because when you look at them you learn they were just common ordinary men who accepted God's call to do extraordinary accomplishment
by trusting and following God. I see great encouragement in this as there is great hope for all of us common ordinary people.

So until the next time as I always say remember God loves you and so do I.

Grandpa Bill


Friday, May 9, 2014

West Chester Spring, May 9, 2014.

After a hard winter that it seemed like would never relent after setting all kinds of records we finally have some wonderful spring days. This of course means lots of outdoor work of cleaning up flower beds and getting ready to plant. I am particularly bummed because I lost 5 or 6 evergreen trees which were maturing nicely. I lost several other flowering bushes as well and several azaleas and rhododendron. The one bright spot in the fountain it appears all six fish survived and yesterday to my amazement I saw that one of the frogs has come out of hibernation. The hardy water lilies did not make it. In the next couple of days I am going to have to climb into the fountain and clean it out and plant new flowers around it. I have to remember to put some type of floating device in there for the frog to sit on because all he can do now is just float in the water. I have all the plants out of the sun room now except on big elephant ears which is so heavy I can't budge it. Will have to wait until some help comes by. The day after I put my hummingbird feeders up I saw my first hummingbird. I can now identify 3 different birds that are feeding. They are all very small and so beautiful. The wrens are very busy building nests as well as the robins, red birds and doves. The mornings just before sunrise are glorious with the cool temperatures, gentle breeze and song bird singing in all directions of the house. It is times like this that you know why you do not live in the city especially if you are a farm boy at heart like me.

I have to go now to look for more flowers to plant. Have to get them early or else they are picked over and nothing is left. Remember what I say God loves you and so do I. 

Grandpa Bill.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Weekly Bible Study, West Chester, OH. May 3, 2014

Lord open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of your word. Amen. 

This week lets look into God's word to study and learn about promises. Last week we spent a lot of time discussing choices and commitments which in one way of looking at it are the same as  a promise. We promise to do something and in making such a promise do we chose to trust and obey God to help us or are we just going to rely on our own strength. Promise. What does it mean? I am sure you have watched little children play and they will promise to do thus and so. As a parent I am sure there have been time when you have allowed your children to do something or go some where and to your instructions they say  “ I promise “. As fathers we promise our families we will do a particular thing some time. In our marriage vows we promise to do various things. When we buy a house, a car, when we sign up for a credit card are we not making a promise to pay for the item? Don’t they call the document we sign a promissory note? 

Do you find that promises are easy to keep? Which ones are easy to keep and which ones are hard to keep? Are there promises we actually never intend to keep? Can you think of one or two? When I think about it there are some things we say in certain situations where we just automatically respond with a promise with out really thinking about it. How about where a friend or family is really struggling and they ask for prayer and we say I’ll remember you in my prayers. 

Have you ever broken a promise? How did it make you feel or did it bother you at all? Have you ever had a friend or family member call you out about breaking a promise such as ,” But daddy you promised “.

Now lets turn the situation around. Have you ever experienced someone breaking a broken promise to you? Have you experienced the broken heart of a broken promise? Was this as a child, teenager or an adult?  Recently ? How did you feel about the broken promise? How did you feel about the person who broke the promise? Did you respect the person? Would you accept that persons promise in the future or would you just say, Well they said they would, but I will just wait and see. In our world today it is more the norm to break promises and to hear of broken promises than promises kept. If you doubt this just look at the divorce record. Multiple promises are broken with each and every divorce. Why are there so many broken promises?

Now let change the focus a little bit. What about God’s promises? Do you trust His promises? Has He ever failed to keep His promises to you? God is always faithful to keep all His promises. It against his very being to do otherwise. He does what He says He will do and He expects His followers ( Christians ) to do the same and to be people who keep their word. The Bible contains literally thousands of God’s promises. In our study today we will discuss some of these promises. By way of background 1 Chronicles focuses on genealogies that show the continuity of God’s redemptive plan ( Chapter 1 - 9 ) and David’s reign  ( Chapters 10 - 29 ). 1 Chronicles Chapters 1 - 9 include and the emphasis is on God’s promise from the time of Adam to that of David. Chapters 10 - 29 includes records of how David became King, brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and desired to build a temple to house it, that is build God a house. The Lord, however, did not permit David to build a house for Him. Instead, the Lord would build a house for David. Ultimately this promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus the Messiah.

Now let’s look at the scriptures and learn more about this. Lets read 1 Chronicles Chapter 17, verses 1 and 2.

   Verse 1: Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan, the prophet, Lo, I dwell in a house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remaineth under curtains.

   Verse: 2. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart for God is with thee.

Isn't it interesting to contrast King David’s house ( palace ) to that of the Ark of the Covenant      ( tent ). By the way, just what was the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord?  Boy, that could take a lot of space to explain it in detail but I will give you a short version at the end of this study. In the meantime I suggest you grab your bible and turn to Exodus 25 and you will find the detailed instructions God gave to Moses on making the ark of the covenant and the tent that housed it and numerous dos and don’t about the ark.

I doubt that you ever heard the old radio preacher Dr. J. Vernon McGee who had a program called through the bible and he taught through the entire bible in 4 - 5 years and then he would start over again. He is now dead. I spent years listening to his teachings. I love what he says in his commentary on verse 1, “ I think it rained the night before, and David heard the pitter-patter of the rain on his palace, he thought of the ark of God out there in a tent and he thinks I want to build a house for God “.  At any point what was Nathans advise to King David? ( verse 2 ). Do you think it was good advise? It appears to me that both David and Nathan forgot one important action and that is seek Gods will in the matter. I think it is easy to understand David’s motives or intentions. For years he has led the armies of Israel in one victory after another, he was a man of action and making decisions. Now he finds the nation of Israel at peace with no battles to fight and he is at ease and has time to think ( in his house ). I believe he is  just like us often times we get the idea that we want to do something for the Lord and we have the best of intentions in our thoughts and desires. What is the old saying “ the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions “. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do things for the Lord. Should we just start? Should we seek advise from friends or the pastoral staff? Here is a thought should we seek God’s will in the matter? As we apply these verses to our lives we see that even with the best of intentions, we can fail to seek the Lord’s will in a specific situation or we can be mistaken in our perception of what God wants us to do. However, one thing is for sure if we sincerely desire to act in tune with His purposes He will correct our plans.

Now lets consider Nathan and how we would feel if we were in his shoes and now we have to go back to King David and tell him the disappointing news since we just a short while ago told him to do what was in his heart. It appears that God spoke to Nathan with a sense of urgency to go tell David that he would not be building a house ( the temple ) for God. It is my opinion that God knew David and like I said earlier David was a man of action so he might just set plans in action in the middle of the night. I think this is a perfect lesson for us here in that if we want to and plan to do something for the Lord and we are talking to the Lord about it He will let us know if we are out of His will.

God told Nathan to go and tell my servant David. He did not leave any option. The indication is  “ now “ don’t wait. In the old testament the term servant is applied to various persons who faithfully served God, including Abraham, Job, Moses, Joshua and Caleb and here King David.  Amazingly, God also calls some ruthless kings his servants as he used them to punish his people Israel. I think it is important here to note that Nathan was told to tell David “ this is what the Lord says”.  Nathan didn’t say “ I have been thinking about this and I think maybe you ought to think about this for a day or two”.  Clearly The Lord wanted David to know the instructions were from him and to know them “ right now “.

Do you think that David was disappointed over the Lords decision that he would not be permitted to build the temple? I would think that was obvious but he was not left out of the process completely. Because of the political stability Israel now enjoyed there were no enemies to hinder the construction. David prepared the plans for the temple and raised tremendous amounts of money for the temple.

Permit me to ask you this. Have there been times when you wanted to do something for the Lord? Such as, teach a class or serve on a particular team or committee and you did not get to do it because someone else was selected. Did you get all bent out of shape? How can we handle the disappoint the next time we face this situation? There is a big object lesson here for all of us. We should rejoice over the fact that the project is getting done. If not, it just might be that we wanted to do it for personal glory rather than for the glory of the Lord. It might also be just like in David’s case the Lord has something better in store for us.

Now lets look at the next section of our study and read 1 Chronicles Chapter 17: verse 7, 10 - 14.

   Verse 7: Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of host, I took thee from the sheepeote ( sheepfold ), even from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel:

   Verse 10: And since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel. Moreover I will subdue all thine enemies. Furthermore I tell thee, that the Lord will build thee an house.

   Verse 11: And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.

   Verse 12: He shall build me a house, and I will stablish ( establish his throne for ever.

   Verse 13: I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him that was before thee.

   Verse 14: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever; and his throne shall be established for evermore.

In some of the verses we did not read God says that he has traveled with Israel all these years and has never ask anyone to build a house for him. Isn’t that just like our God?  Israel was living in tents as they traveled so God lived in a tent. It is interesting to note that as Israel settled into the promised land and stopped wandering around they started building homes for themselves but the Lord was still residing in the tent. David wants to build a house for God and God tells him I can’t let you do it because you are a bloody man. 

In verse 7 God recites to David all the things he has done for him and then in verses 11 - 14 amazingly he proceeds to tell David his plans for the future. More promises. It was in David’s heart to build a house for God and God gave him credit for that.

So who did actually get to build the temple? Solomon, David’s son would build the temple. So doesn’t this bring up an obvious question of what was the house God promised that he would build for David? It was God’s house and kingdom that would last forever. Now contrast this to the earthly temple which Solomon built  and which was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar yet the temple and kingdom God is talking about will last forever.

God promised David that he would raise up one of David’s sons and would establish his kingdom. This verse applies to Solomon but it looks beyond Solomon to Jesus Christ, the Messiah because Jesus is out of the linage of David.. Only Jesus’ throne is established forever. As Christians today we celebrate the reign of Christ, whose kingdom has no end.

Now we will look at the final scripture in today’s study. 1 Chronicles 17: verses 23 - 27.

   Verse 23: Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and  concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said.

   Verse 24: Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified forever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee.

   Verse 25: For thou, O my God, hast told thy servant that thou wilt build him an house; therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray before thee.

   Verse 26: And now, Lord thou art God, and hast promised this goodness unto thy servant;

   Verse 27: Now therefore let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may be before thee for ever; for thou blessest, O Lord, and it shall be blessed for ever.

I asked the question earlier whether you thought David was disappointed over God’s decision that he would not be permitted to build the temple and said that he probably was but in the verses above we find what ever disappointment there was turning to joy. These passages teach us that we can count on God’s promises. David’s disappointment must not have lasted long because it appears that after hearing the words that God told Nathan to say to David, David started praying. At first he expressed his humble thanksgiving to God who promised to work through David’s descendants. Then David’s prayer describes God’s incomparable greatness and His choice of Israel as His people. David’s prayer implores the Lord to fulfill His promise to build an eternal house or dynasty through David’s descendants. Finally David ends his prayer with a statement of assurance about the Lord continuing his blessing. I love the last part of verse 27 which in effect indicates that if the Lord blesses it is blessed. Now that is assurance of God’s promises.

Here we realize that through David’s line God would send His Son, the Messiah. Through Jesus Christ, the Messiah salvation is offered freely to all who accept Him, as Lord and Savior. By receiving this gift, we too, can enjoy God’s blessings forever. God has kept his promises. He always has and always will. It appears to me that as we conclude this study that we take God’s goodness and his promises to much for granted. Rightly so God’s promises are guarantees even if some are conditional. I mean by this that when in God’s word it says “ if my people or if you will do “  it means there is a condition. We have to obey God’s word or such and such to satisfy the condition for God to bless us. Obviously he will not bless us for a sinful life but he will forgive our sins is we confess them. Perhaps rather than dwell so much on what God had promised we ought to take inventory and think of all the times we have promised God that we never followed through on or never even attempted to do at all. May God forgive us for our failures in this regard. 

For you future study you might be interested in looking at  2nd Samuel , Chapter 7 which also covers this entire incident. I mentioned earlier I would discuss a little about the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord.  As I said earlier I refer you to Exodus Chapter 25 and following for detailed instruction on how to make the Ark and  what material to us and so forth. God gave Moses these instruction at Mount Sinai. The Ark was to be made out of Shittim wood ( Acacia ). It was covered inside and outside with gold. This wood  came from a tree which was plentiful in the area where the Israelites were located. It is a beautiful wood, tight grained and long lasting. Some commentaries describe its durability to that of redwood. There are several species of this tree and  bush.  They are a most picturesque tree with gnarled trunks, sometimes 2 ft. thick. They have  twisted, thorny branches, which often give the whole tree an umbrella-like form. They have curiously twisted pods and masses of gum exude in many parts. I have seen some descriptions which say it’s leaves are very small and look like the leaves of our Mimosa trees. The trees yield a valuable, hard, close-grained timber, not readily attacked by insects.

God gave Moses very specific instruction on how to carry the Ark. It had to be carried with poles placed in ring on the side of the Ark. The Levite priest carrying the Ark were prohibited touching it or seeing it. When the Israelites were traveling the Ark had to be covered and carried 2,000 cubits in front of the Israelites. This brings up a good question of what is a cubit which was a basic unit of measurement in olden days. The answer to that question is the distance from the elbow to the finger tip. Now there are many differences between us, male and female for example. There were difference between races  which ranged from 17.5 inches to 20.6 inches but it is generally accepted that a cubit is about 18 inches so you can do the math. The next question is what was in the  Ark. Here again there is some discussion about this but the scriptures ( Hebrews 9: verse 4 ) indicate the Ark contained The Tablets of Stone ( Ten Commandment ), Aaron’s rod, and a jar of Manna. The Ark it’s tent and every thing in and about it are extremely symbolic and would be an excellent topic for study at a future date.  If you watch many movies you will know that the Ark has been the subject of several movies story lines which totally miss the point of the Ark . They want to find it because of its value ( gold ) or for powers it possess.

Until we meet again let me remind you the God loves you and so do I.

Grandpa Bill