July 14, 2018, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

Imagine your first appearance before the Lord!  He will embrace you, if you’re like me, you’ll become overwhelmed by the thought that the God of the Universe just hugged me like I am family, and the tears start flowing as you drop to your knees and hug the feet of your God, your Savior, your Lord, your All.  I can see Him, perhaps with a smile upon His face as He lifts your head and tells you to get up because He has much to show you.  At some point, as you know, you will have a heart to heart with the Lord, as He reviews with you your walk of faith.  I’m not sure what all will be said, but what if Jesus asks you. “Well, Ed, how did you like the spiritual gift I gave to you?”

So the point of the blog- spiritual gifts.  What in the world is a “spiritual gift”? By “country boy definition”, a spiritual gift is some ability that we receive at salvation from the Holy Spirit.  It enable us to go beyond our ordinary ability in serving God as we follow Him to fulfill His ultimate plan.  A spiritual gift is something which you do and are surprised that you can do it.

So, what is your spiritual gift?  Would it be that you were called to speak before a group and although you were afraid, you did it and everybody told you how good it was.  Or maybe you were in a situation and somebody asked you to lead singing and you found out you could sing.  Maybe it was a positive attitude in a time of trials.  Perhaps you lead a group to accomplish a goal.

To answer the question, “what is your spiritual gift” you need to start in the Bible.  There are three places to look for “lists” of spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28-30; and Ephesians 4:7-12.  Take the time to read the passages and then ask God for wisdom so you can discern your gift.  Or maybe gifts.  Remember, every Christian has at least one spiritual gift so don’t think you don’t have one!  As a believer, God saved you so you could go into the world, allowing the Holy Spirit to minister through you!

Okay, you have your homework.  Get busy and discover your spiritual gift!


Walking Like Our Father (1 John 2:1-14)
June 23, 2018, 1:36 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book
Walking Like our Father (1st John 2:1-14)
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men,
because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the wicked one.”
My son has three sons, in whom I see so much of their father at their age. Except for the time my son is working, he wears a baseball cap. He has always loved to wear caps; I do as well. But my son has a unique way of wearing his cap and each of his sons copy his style when they wear their caps. Baseball caps have a flat bill and my son leaves it flat. There used to be a style associated with shaping the bill of a cap with just the right curve, but my son leaves his bill flat. So, do each of his sons. It is normal for children to copy their parents, so when John writes to his “little children” he is trying to get them to focus on being like and walking like our Father. Our Father doesn’t sin, so John writes don’t sin and break God’s law. He wants us to copy our Father in how we live in this world.
But notice that John, after his plea not to sin, also wants to encourage those who fail at attempting to walk like our Father. If we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father. An advocate is one who stands up for me and intercedes when I fail. His name is Jesus Christ, the One Son of God who always conforms to the Father’s will in everything and in every way. Jesus, my lawyer, pleads with God to hold back the punishment and judgment that should come my way. Jesus does this because He is the Propitiation for my sins because He is the atoning sacrifice that satisfies the wrath of God that should be directed at me because of our sinful nature, our worldliness, our lifestyle, our choice to sin rather than to obey.
John doesn’t stop the plea to walk like the Father at this point. Please don’t take this to mean “walk like your Father but you won’t so God provided a payment to take pay for failure. John tells us to walk like our Father and at those time when we fail, don’t give up because God, our Father, took the responsibility to take care of that failure. John encourages us to examine our walk to see if we truly have a relationship with God as our Father. So, how do you know if your relationship with God exists? What is the guiding principle for how you live? John tells us that we keep His commandments which according to the language used means that we habitually focus on God’s standards and obeys them as a habit in life. If I have a relationship with God, I need to walk by His standards and live and conduct myself the way He walked and conducted Himself while on earth. John tells us that we can walk like Jesus walked by doing one simple thing, live like Jesus lived in loving others. Jesus always put the needs of others before His needs. He was God, left the beauty of Heaven to live on sin-cursed earth, walked away from the constant praise of angels into an earth filled with hatred and rejection because He put my need of salvation first. I understand that God was doing what He planned and that the act of redemption demonstrated the amazing God He was, is today, and forever will be. John is telling us that God made living for Him simple. We are enabled the indwelling Holy Spirit to do God’s will and all that we must do is live by two simple standards. Love Jesus so much that you always strive to do what makes Him happy in everything and love others so much that you always put them before you. A true relationship with God will be seen in this attitude. But because I have a sinful heart, I might fail and do something selfish and self-centered. God has a plan to deal with that. Admit the failure, let God deal with it, and go back to loving Him in all you do, and loving others more than you love yourself. John calls a life lived this way a victorious life.

When God Becomes Personal
June 21, 2018, 2:07 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Psalm 23 (A Psalm of David)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
(TRANSITION- A Change in Intimacy in the Relationship Occurs)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Notice how David’s walk with God changed because of his walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Instead of having a relationship in which he talked about God, he had a relationship in which he talked to God. His focus changed.

Please look and ponder this Psalm. What do you see in the passage that we sometimes miss because it is so familiar to us?

Living in the Good Old Days or Living in the Challenges of Today?
June 1, 2018, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book
When I contemplate the world in which we live, I see several very troubling changes. First, the line between right and wrong has become blurred beyond recognition. Our culture has moved from a wholesome standard of morality to a wholesale emphasis on tolerance.
There was a time—I remember it well—when prayer was a daily occurrence in every schoolroom. presidents quoted from the Bible, pastors preached straight from God’s Word, and people treated Scripture with reverence. But times have changed. The ignorance of biblical knowledge in our society is rampant.
Finally, through an intensifying embrace of postmodernism, we have clearly shifted from a Christian era to a post-Christian era. Instead of interpreting life honestly, we are now encouraged to view it emotionally and to act accordingly. Our thinking is no longer based on the objective truth of the Bible.
So many of us long for those days of old and the way it used to be. But listen to that objective truth of the Bible from Ecclesiastes 7:10 in which God tells us, “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these?
for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.” We are not living in that past world but this present world. And like Esther, to whom God, through Mordecai, spoke these words, “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) this is our time as the church. While we need to hold on the the fundamental and objective truth of the Bible, we can’t be holding on to the practices and mindset of a 1950s church (which we call Old Fashioned) as we encounter and seek to reach our 2018 culture. We aren’t wrestling against ungodly liberals and millennials but against the spiritual forces of evil that Satan is using to destroy billions today. Think of it this way, wouldn’t it be stupid for a sports team competing in today’s world to use the equipment and mindset of a 1950s team? Wouldn’t it be ignorant to do business in today’s world using the technology of the 1920 society? So we need to proclaim the same message, the Cross of Christ and a personal relationship with God based on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as presented in the literal Word of God but do it using 2018 technology and methods. Yes we do live in a world which no longer has clearly defined lines of right and wrong. We live in a world of tolerance that is one-sided. We live in a world in which the people of God minimize prayer and focus on self-effort. We live in a world where leaders are godly people (but we are hearing more about God and His grace today), and we do live in a postmodern society. But God has never been limited by what others do and He never will be. So as His church, let us go in His power and storm the gates of hell in our endeavor to share the Gospel and see lives set free from the prison they are in. God is still changing lives and the Gospel still works.

Bible Study in John 4, When God Does the Unexpected
September 20, 2017, 3:14 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

When we look at Jesus, we see the unexpected things that He does. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have experienced the unexpected nature of the journey. He takes us to places that at times breaks us and at times overwhelms us. We even have those encounters with Him in which He reveals our deepest secrets and exposes them to the light. In John 4, God allows us to see a few of those unexpected encounters during the time that Jesus, the God-man, walked among us.
The first encounter is with those who hate Jesus. The Pharisees saw that Jesus was becoming a popular figure in the religious scene in Jerusalem. Their focused turned from John the Baptist, who seemingly stepped aside to let the spotlight shine on Jesus. The crowds saw something new and unique in Jesus, who spoke with an authority not heard from the Pharisees. So, the Pharisees sought to come up with a plan to eliminate Jesus. Since it wasn’t the time for the crucifixion, Jesus left Jerusalem and headed back to His home base in Galilee.
Looking on a map, the shortest route for Jesus to take would go through Samaria. During the time Jesus spent on earth, Samaria was a place to be avoided. A thousand years earlier, Samaria and Judea were united during the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon. After the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two kingdoms, with Samaria becoming a hotbed of idol worship. The sins that took place plus the consequences of the Assyrian captivity turned Samaria into a place hated by the Jews. The Jews didn’t even consider the Samaritans to be Jews, but saw them someone lesser with whom they should not interact. So serious were the Jews in avoiding contact with the Samaritans, they avoided travelling through Samaria.
So it was unusual that Jesus “must needs go through Samaria” on His way to Galilee. Stopping at noon at Sychar, Jesus sat at a well while the disciples looked for food. He had the perfect place to encounter a Samaritan woman as she came for water. Something was wrong in the woman’s life. Normally the women came early in the day to get water. For her to come at the hottest part of the day revealed that she most likely was not highly regarded by the other women. I can imagine the looks she endured and the covered words followed by laughter directed at her. When she saw a man sitting by the well, she must have been startled, but seeing that He was a Jew brought a sigh of relief. Jewish men never talked to a woman in public, especially a woman like her. Can you imagine her surprised look when Jesus said, “would you draw water and give Me a drink?”
Since He started the conversation, she replied, “I can’t believe that a Jew like You would associate with a Samaritan woman, much less ask me to give You a drink of water. Aren’t you afraid that water from me would be filthy?”
Jesus must have laughed and replied, “you have no idea who I am or what gift from God that I bring to you. If you did, you would have asked me for the life changing gift of ‘living’ water.”
The woman sarcastically replied, “You are sitting by a deep well with no bucket in sight. Where and how would you get ‘living’ water? Do you have something better than our father Jacob, who dug and maintained this well so even today, we can get clean water.
Jesus reminded the woman that if she took a drink from Jacob’s well, she would have her thirst quenched, but only for a moment. Before long, you will be thirsty again. But if you drink the ‘living’ water I’m offering, you will never, ever thirst again, not even in eternity.”
The woman wanted this amazing water. “Please, Sir, give me a drink of this water. I want never to be thirsty again. I will never have to make this trip again.
Here is where the encounter takes a turn in which the woman’s life becomes transparent before Jesus. Jesus unexpectedly tells the woman to bring her husband to Him.
Caught off-guard, the woman lies by saying, “I don’t have a husband!”
Jesus responds, “Technically you’re telling the truth. You don’t have A husband. You have had five husbands and are currently living with a man to whom you aren’t married! Yes, you don’t have A husband.”
The woman uses a technique that I have used when I don’t want to deal with my failures, turn the discussion into something else. She compliments Him, by calling Him a prophet. But then she asks a theological question. She asks, “Where are we supposed to worship?” In asking this question, she brings back the differences between Jews and Samaritans. She wants to start an argument. But Jesus doesn’t allow her to sidetrack Him. Jesus brings the discussion to her personal relationship with God. In reading what Jesus points out, He tells her and us that true worship doesn’t involve a place. How sad that we have forgotten these words of Jesus. We have our “sanctuaries” and “God’s house” in a building and miss that true worship occurs in our hearts, that the true “house of God” is our inner being. Jesus also told us that true worship is founded in truth and in spirit. It is not outward actions that fulfill a checklist that we have established. True worship is when we authentically worship God without putting on an act, without pretending something. It is when we, as broken people, pour out our praise for God. Jesus reminded her that truth worship is when we seek to enter into God’s presence.
The broken woman then speaks from her heart, “these mysteries, these truths, will be made clear by the Messiah when He comes.”
Imagine the tears that fill her eyes when the man to whom she has talked reveals His true identity, “I am the Messiah, the One for whom you have been looking.”
At this point the disciples return and look on in amazement that He has been talking to this woman. The woman runs away, returning to her hometown without her water pot. Stopping men and women, she shares the good news that has been told her, and points people to the Messiah. The excited people came out and approached Jesus.
Jesus seemed energized by the people seeking Him. He tells the disciples, who wonder if He has been fed by someone else, that His nourishment is serving God. The woman shared with neighbors, who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Others in Samaria believed because Jesus had told them the Truth.
What a sad difference that Jesus experienced among His own people. When He got to Galilee, He saw no true faith in Him.
So as He continue to travel to Cana, a government official approached Jesus, begging Him to help cure his young son who was on his death bed. He wanted Jesus to travel to Capernaum because he felt that Jesus had to go to his son or his son would die. But Jesus told the man that his word was enough for the young boy to be healed. The authority with which Jesus spoke provided the confidence the man needed to put faith in what Jesus had said. Before reaching home, servants met him with the news of the son’s miraculous recovery which happened at the time Jesus spoke.
So where does this leave us? We need to expect God to do amazing and unexpected things in our lives. When He does, we are to rejoice in those things, and celebrate they blessings that come from Him. We also need to respond to His word in faith even when the circumstances paint a different picture. We need to lay aside our human reasoning that seeks our answers and solutions and trust Him. While we may not always understand what He does and why He does it, we need to allow Him to change us to Christ-likeness. This will stretch our faith and this will result in a us denying our plans and ambitions to do His will.

Your turn. Take the time to read John 4. When you do, read the story as if you don’t know it and search for details. To help you, use these three questions to keep your attention.
John 4
1. Going from Judea to Galilee led Jesus to a place that most Jews avoided. What was the place?

(The place became the symbol of rebellion and idol worship that characterized the Northern Kingdom during the Divided Kingdom Stage. The rebellious Jews built a temple on Mt. Gerizim to the True God, an act that demonstrated that they rejected God’s Word as their authority.)

2. What unexpected act did Jesus show a woman of Samaria?

(Jews never talked or had any contact with Samaritans. Jewish men also never approached a woman like this in public. Jesus is going against the social standards of His day. That’s why Jesus’ act was unexpected.)

3. What “signs and wonders” had the father of the dying son seen and trusted, and what did he trust after Jesus confronted his faith by saying “Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe”?
a. Before the question:
b. After the question:

Four Hard Lessons David Learned (2 Samuel 11-12)
September 10, 2017, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” (2 Samuel 11:27)
When we read 2 Samuel 11 we read about the time that David commits the sin of adultery with Bathsheba by an act in which she gets pregnant. To cover his sin, David arranges for Uriah, her husband to be killed in a battle. and then takes Bathsheba as his wife, and she has his son, born due to an act of rebellion and sin. The verse written above is the last verse in the chapter. If you look at the passage in your Bible, you will notice the word “LORD” . (In most Bible it is capitalized but the last 3 letters are in a smaller font.) It is the only time the word is used in chapter 11. But in chapter 12, the word is constantly used, showing that Jehovah (LORD) took the responsibility to deal David and his sin upon Himself.
Here are four things to consider:
David was, and is, known as a man after God’s own heart. Any of can sin in a major and destructive way. But we can’t be separated from God’s love. (Romans 835). Many Bible scholars believe that David was guilty of raping Bathsheba. This man after God’s own heart revealed that his own heart was evil and wicked. The good that David did was on God and every evil act and thought was totally David’s fault. By law, David was to be killed but God dealt with him in mercy and grace.
Second, God used someone who was His faithful servant to confront David. Notice the words “The LORD sent Nathan to David”. Nathan didn’t go on his own. He waited until God sent him. Notice how God used Nathan to confront David. Nathan wasn’t up in his face condemning but told a story which resulted in David condemning himself. The result of Nathan’s dealing with David can be understood by reading Psalm 51, the confession and repentance of David for his sin. How powerful is God’s dealing with His people’s sin.
Third, while we can’t see a time difference we know that at least 9 months have passed. God waited to confront David. Why? I think that it may because David, in his rebellion, was very defensive after his sin. After months of rebellion, David may have been more open to God dealing with Him. God still used the story about the young lamb taken from a shepherd who only had that one lamb.
Finally, this sin didn’t go on without serious consequences that David didn’t expect and couldn’t change. David’s secret sin would result in someone taking his wives from him and everyone in Israel would know that this person did (his son Absalom would take David’s royal concubines during his rebellion). Since David’s rebellion had damaged the reputation of the Lord in the sight of the enemies of the Lord, there would be consequences. The baby born from this act of rebellion -would died. David would plead with God and do everything just right so that his prayer would be answered but the baby became sick. The giant in David’s life won this time because David had taken his eyes off God and placed them on what he wanted and not on what God wanted. His prayers were useless. After 7 days of David wanting to die instead of the child, this small baby was taken into the presence of God, to enjoy the glories found in Him. Sin is always destructive and always costs more than it brought.

Bible Study, John 3 The “Must Read” Chapte
September 7, 2017, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

In life, we often hear of things that we “must” do. A list of the “musts” of our lives would both fill this page and frustrate us with the things that we feel are required by immediate or future need, or something that we see as fulfilling our purpose. Sometimes the “musts” of our lives are legitimate and necessary things that we have to do but many times these required things are simply what we assume to be needed things. “I must go to the store” often times isn’t something that is necessary or essential but a desired preference.
However, in John 3, John lists some essential musts for us. These “musts” are essential and needed as we fulfill our purpose in life. The first must is easily seen- Jesus, in His conversation with Nicodemus, tells him that a man “must” be born again. In the 3rd and 4th chapters of John you read of two of the encounters have with people, Nicodemus and an unnamed woman at a well in Samaria. Although these were two uniquely different people, they share a common need, the need of the new birth and a personal relationship with God.
Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews, which speaks of both his position and presumed knowledge of God’s Word. Evidently, Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish governing body. You can see the interest that Nicodemus has in learning more about Jesus because he comes to him. Also notice the respect Nicodemus shows Jesus by calling Him “rabbi”. Although Jesus didn’t have formal rabbinic training, Nicodemus recognized His wisdom and authority in speaking on the Bible. I also notice that the miracles of Jesus caught Nicodemus’ attention. Most likely these miracles included the cleansing of the temple. John gives the miracles performed by Jesus which show us that Jesus is God in the flesh.
I also note that Nicodemus had an attitude of fear. He comes to visit and talk to Jesus at night. Perhaps Nicodemus was concerned what the other members of the Sanhedrin might think about his interest in and respect for Jesus.
Jesus shares with Nicodemus “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” So, the seed is sown in the life of Nicodemus that would result in him following after Jesus and publicly revealing Himself as a follower of Jesus Christ at a time when the enemies of God thought they had won. But as the great sermon reminds us, “Sundays coming!”
The narrative then switches to John the Baptist’s testimony about two essential “musts”. When Jesus and his followers come into a region where John the Baptist and his followers were ministering, some of John’s followers show their competitive nature by telling John that Jesus was in the area. I think they were implying that John needed to bring his “A-game” to his preaching and baptizing because “all” men were going to Jesus and his disciples instead of them. In verse 30, John gives two essential “musts” concerning how we are to view Jesus and us. First, Jesus “must” increase. The indication is that John had fulfilled his purpose in pointing people to Jesus and now, Jesus had to be in the spotlight. He must replace John as the “big deal”. John then gives the 3rd essential “must” of his willingness to cast the attention to Jesus. John proclaimed, “I must decrease!” How convicting are these words to those of us who are born in a land which places great importance of becoming somebody. We strive and struggle, sacrifice and work, manipulate and deceive, all to become someone. John later in an epistle talks about “the pride of life”, or the desire to be somebody. John the Baptist had it right, Jesus is to be in the spotlight. Life is all about Him. John the Baptist’s concludes his testimony reminding us that “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: (think about this! The believer already has life which doesn’t end.) He goes on the say “and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

The Questions
1. Tell the two characteristics used to specifically identify Nicodemus.
2. What Old Testament event was linked to the discussion with Nicodemus?
3. Take the time to read John 3:36 in several different versions of the Gospel. Notice how some translate the second use of the word “believeth” (or believe). Putting it together with the first use of a form of believe, what do you learn about what it means to “believe” Biblically?