MUSINGS

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E Williams

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MUSING – March 31 2018

COWARDLY BEHAVIOUR

John 19:38-40
Later Joseph from the city of Arimathea asked Pilate to let him remove Jesus’ body. (Joseph was a disciple of Jesus but secretly because he was afraid of the Jews). Pilate gave him permission to remove Jesus’ body. So Joseph removed it. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to Jesus at night, went with Joseph and brought 75 pounds of a myrrh and aloe mixture. These two men took the body of Jesus and bound it with strips of linen. They laced the strips with spices. This was the Jewish custom for burial.

What is a coward? A person who does not do the right thing at the right time out of fear of difficulty, pain, disgrace, or humiliation. Coward pretty much finished the eleven remaining disciples of Jesus. These men who had lived with him, had followed him, who called him Master and Rabbi, ran and hid. Most had abandoned him between his arrest and the trial. And after the crusifiction not one of them came to claim the body of the man who had called them friends.

Joseph was a good man, a godly man, and a believer in the teachings of Jesus. He believed that Jesus was the the long awaited Messiah, the saviour. But he kept it a secret because here was afraid.

Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin who visited Jesus one night and said, “Rabbi, we know that God has sent you as a teacher. No one can perform the miracles you perform unless God is with him.” But he had more questions and doubts.

Jesus said to him, “If you don’t believe me when I tell you about things on earth, how will you believe me when I tell you about things in heaven?”

Nicodemus, respected Jesus’ teachings but came only at night when his friends and and co-workers would not see him. He was afraid of what others might say it do.

So now two men, cowards in their own ways, claimed the body, prepared it for burial, and placed it in a tomb.

All of these men had at least some belief in this man who was executed, But they didn’t yet have resurrection belief.

Are you willing to proclaim your belief in Jesus the Christ? Or are you afraid?

© 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – March 30 2018

WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT GOOD FRIDAY

Isaiah 53:4-9
“He certainly has taken upon himself our suffering and carried our sorrows, but we thought that God had wounded him, beat him, and punished him. He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds. We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way, and the LORD has laid all our sins on him. He was abused and punished, but he didn’t open his mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He was like a sheep that is silent when its wool is cut off. He didn’t open his mouth. He was arrested, taken away, and judged. Who would have thought that he would be removed from the world? He was killed because of my people’s rebellion. He was placed in a tomb with the wicked. He was put there with the rich when he died, although he had done nothing violent and had never spoken a lie.”

Matthew 27:12-14
While the chief priests and leaders were accusing him, he said nothing. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear how many charges they’re bringing against you?” But Jesus said absolutely nothing to him in reply, so the governor was very surprised.”

Matthew 27:27-31
“Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the palace and gathered the whole troop around him. They took off his clothes and put a bright red cape on him. They twisted some thorns into a crown, placed it on his head, and put a stick in his right hand. They knelt in front of him and made fun of him by saying, “Long live the king of the Jews!” After they had spit on him, they took the stick and kept hitting him on the head with it. After the soldiers finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the cape and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.”

Eight hundred years before his birth, Jesus death was already chronicled by the prophet Isaiah. It’s not a pretty picture. Imagine that you just read it in your local newspaper. What would your reaction be? Outrage? Grief? Anger? Disbelief? Would it ever occur to you too call it a good Friday?

Here is the reason we can call it good,
“Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.” Romans 5:8

It is good because the predicted Messiah had come and completed the task of rescuing his people from their sins.

Have a blessed Friday.

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MUSING – March 29 2018

PEACE TO PREPARE FOR WAR

2 Chronicles 14:5-7
“He (King Asa of Judah) got rid of the illegal places of worship and the altars for incense in all the cities of Judah. The kingdom was at peace during his reign. He built fortified cities in Judah because the land had peace. There was no war during those years because the LORD gave him a time of peace. So Asa told Judah, “Let’s build these cities and make walls around them with towers and doors that can be barred. The country is still ours because we have dedicated our lives to serving the LORD our God. We have dedicated our lives to him, and he has surrounded us with peace.” So they built the cities, and everything went well.”

I remember something a Marine friend of mine said as we watched the Berlin Wall being torn down. He said, “Nothing is a frightening as a time if peace.”

I thought, at the time, that it was an odd thing to say. I didn’t think much more about it at the time. However, in retrospect, I think I know what he meant. Countries use a time of peace to build up their defences. More weapons can be stockpiled during peace than during war. Resources can be used to prepare for the next battle.

I was born at the end of the second world war. I’ve lived through Korea, Vietnam, the wars in the middle East, and countless other “skirmishes”. The times between were called peace. They were never truly peace.

True peace is more than an absence of fighting. Jesus said, “I have told you this while I’m still with you. However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you. “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly.” John 14:25-27

His peace is the true peace. It is the peace you carry inside you. It is the peace of knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells within you, teaching, guiding, and protecting you. His peace is with you during times of conflict not just between conflicts and wars.

Do you have the peace which passes all understanding? Philippians 4:7

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MUSING – March 28 2018

PREPARATION AND OPPORTUNITY

Nehemiah 2:1-5
In the month of Nisan, in Artaxerxes’ twentieth year as king, after some wine was brought for the king, I picked up the cup of wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence before. The king asked me, “Why do you look so sad? You aren’t sick, are you? You must be troubled about something.” (I was really afraid.) “May the king live forever!” I said to the king. “Why shouldn’t I look sad when the city, the place where my ancestors are buried, is in ruins and its gates are burned down?” “What do you want?” the king asked me. So I prayed to the God of heaven, and I asked the king, “If it pleases Your Majesty, and you are willing to grant my request, let me go to Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild it.”

The thing that jumped out at me here is when Nehemiah said, “I prayed to the God.” think about that for a moment. He already admitted that he was really afraid. The king, to whom he was enslaved, ask him a question. And Nehemiah says he prayed to God. How long do you think the king waited for an answer? When the Master says, “Jump” the slave jumps and asks if it is high enough.

I don’t doubt that he prayed. But I bet it was a quick “Thank you.” Because he had already prayed about this for days. Nehemiah 1:4 reads,
“When I heard this,(destruction of Jerusalem) I sat down and cried. I mourned for days. I continued to fast and pray to the God of heaven”.

Are you ”prayed up” so that you’ll be ready for God’s opportunity?

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MUSING – March 27 2018

WHAT WILL YOU BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?

1 John 3:1-2
“Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God’s dear children. And that’s what we are. For this reason the world doesn’t recognize us, and it didn’t recognize him either. Dear friends, now we are God’s children. What we will be isn’t completely clear yet. We do know that when Christ appears we will be like him because we will see him as he is.”

When we are children people would always ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I wanted to be a cowboy. Not the kind of cowboy who herded cattle. I wanted to be the one in the white hat and who rode the the snow white horse. I wanted to be the one who saved the stage coach, or the town. You no the one who could shoot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand, to be the one who could ride up beside the bad guy, jump from my horse, knocking the bad guy from his horse. We’d wrestle in the dirt without me losing my hat. I wanted to be the hero.

As an adult, I never did any of those things. But I still try and live by my imagined cowboy code, to do the right thing at the right time. I try to help the underdog. I try to live in such a way that “The Spirit of the Lord is with me. He has anointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin and the restoring of sight to the blind, to forgive those who have been shattered by sin, to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

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MUSING- March 26 2018

DARK BLESSINGS

1 Thessalonians 5:16-20
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this. Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. Don’t despise what God has revealed.

My favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God–those whom he has called according to his plan.” Once you understand the depth of that verse, you can face each obstacle, each challenge, each setback, and each hurt, if given to God in prayerful thanksgiving, can become a blessing. It is more than a positive attitude. It is a promise from God that He can use your pain as well as your joy for His holy purpose.

Try it the next time you are tempted to cry out, “Why me?” Instead honestly tell God about your troubles, then claim this promise that He can turn it into something good.”

In my own life, I can look backward on those dark times (my valleys of death and despair) and see the way God used those. Now, if I can l look forward with that same assurance, I can praise Him in and for those trouble filled times.

Can you look backward and see the hands of God at work? Can you trust that He is still at work yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

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MUSING – March 25 2018

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Philippians 3:1
Now then, brothers and sisters, be joyful in the Lord. It’s no trouble for me to write the same things to you, and it’s for your safety.

Paul writes, “It’s no trouble for me to write the same things to you,” or as a different translation reads, “To write the same things to you truly is not tiresome to me.”

As I’m writing these little devotions and/or my sermons, I wonder how many times I’ve said the same thing over and over? There are only so many ways to say, Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.Psalm 34:14 or Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away. Acts 3:19.

God’s message hasn’t changed in thousands of years. But, have you heard it?

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MUSING – March 24 2018

CAT WRANGLER

Numbers 11:10-12
Moses heard people from every family crying at the entrance to their tents. The LORD became very angry, and Moses didn’t like it either. So he asked, “LORD, why have you brought me this trouble? How have I displeased you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Am I their mother? Did I give birth to them? Are you really asking me to carry them in my arms–as a nurse carries a baby–all the way to the land you promised their ancestors with an oath?

I remember a sign that was posted in the bathroom of a small Ma & Pa restaurant. The sign read, “I’m not your mother, clean up your own mess.”

I’m sure that everyone who has been in charge of other people has had similar feelings.

In a private conversation with a pastor, they said that leading Christians is like herding kittens. They are warm and fuzzy but it’s nearly impossible to keep them moving in the same direction.

I know that at times, both as supervisor and as a preacher, I’ve felt like a cat wrangler. It is frustrating at times. You feel that the you are all alone with an impossible task. Why won’t they listen?

Moses felt so burdened that he cried out to the LORD. “I can’t take care of all these people by myself. This is too much work for me! If this is how you’re going to treat me, why don’t you just kill me? I can’t face this trouble anymore.”

The LORD heard and answered Moses by providing helpers to share the burden.

Here is the question of the day: Am I a burden or am I a helper to those tasked with leading me?

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MUSING – March 23, 2018

I HAVE THE CURE

Imagine for a moment that you have been suffering under an incurable disease. This illness has ruined you physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

Now imagine that you find a cure. In a single dose you are instantly completely healed. Not only are you free of this illness, but you are now immune to every disease.

What would you do?

Would you hide yourself away and hope that no one notices your changes? Or would you call your family and friends and share the cure with them? Wouldn’t you want to go to the hospitals and doctor’s offices and song the praises of the cure?

I have the cure. The LORD God Almighty has given me the cure through the person if His Son Jesus the Christ. I share him with you now.

Psalms 40:1-5
“I waited patiently for the LORD. He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure. He placed a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see this and worship. They will trust the LORD. Blessed is the person who places his confidence in the LORD and does not rely on arrogant people or those who follow lies. You have done many miraculous things, O LORD my God. You have made many wonderful plans for us. No one compares to you! I will tell others about your miracles, which are more than I can count.”

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MUSING – March 22 2018

HORROR AND HOPE

I just re-read the book of Lamentations, which means the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping.

It is a truly horrific book full of examples of the depths of human despair and depravity. The writer documents the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of it’s enemies. The city was blockaded and people were starting to the point that mothers were eating their babies.

This is the calamity that the prophets had warned them about. But the people refused to believe, refused to accept that God would remove his protection from them. They proudly proclaimed themselves to be God’s people, all the while breaking his laws and ignoring his warnings.

A few days ago I posted,”I reject the idea of a hateful, vengeful God. God doesn’t so much bring about calamity, as step back and allow the consequences of OUR actions.” read now the words written during all the death and destruction in Jerusalem:

“Even if he makes us suffer, he will have compassion in keeping with the richness of his mercy. He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone, crush any prisoner on earth underfoot, deny people their rights in the presence of the Most High God, or deprive people of justice in court. The Lord isn’t happy to see these things.

Lamentations 3:32-36

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MUSINGS – March 21 2018

DO YOU HAVE BONE DISEASE?

Psalms 32:3-5
When I kept silent about my sins, my bones began to weaken because of my groaning all day long. Day and night your hand lay heavily on me. My strength shriveled in the summer heat.

I made my sins known to you, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to you, O LORD. Then you forgave all my sins.

Let me say this first: the psalmist was not being literal here. This is a poem and poetic license is used to describe how the burden of his unconfessed sins made him feel.

I have felt that way and so have countless others. Listen,”Once my heart was heavy with a load of sin. Jesus took the load and gave me peace within.” or “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved” These hymn writers had to have felt the weight of their sins to have written these words. They and I have also been set free by confessing those sins to the LORD.

Is your heart heaven? Are your bones weak? Confess to the LORD your sins. Admit to them. Honestly promise to not do them again. Then go and sin no more.

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March 20 2018

GO OR STAY

Genesis 26:1-3
There was a famine in the land in addition to the earlier one during Abraham’s time. So Isaac went to King Abimelech of the Philistines in Gerar. The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Don’t go to Egypt. Stay where I tell you. Live here in this land for a while, and I will be with you and bless you. I will give all these lands to you and your descendants. I will keep the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.

Many times in my life I’ve ask God where he wants me. I actually pray,”Lord, push me, pull me, place me where you want me. I give you my permission to override my self will not my will but yours.”

Sometimes I’m expecting a “Go to Nineveh!*” But more often than not I’ve gotten, “Stay where I tell you.”

*Genesis 10:10

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LOVE SONGS

Isaiah 12:2-6
Look! God is my Savior. I am confident and unafraid, because the LORD is my strength and my song. He is my Savior.” With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation. At that time you will say, “Praise the LORD. Call on his name. Make his deeds known among the nations. Make them remember that his name is highly honored. Make music to praise the LORD. He has done wonderful things. Let this be known throughout the earth. Shout loudly, and sing with joy, people of Zion! The Holy One of Israel is great. He is among you.”

Sing to the Lord a new song. I remember years ago hearing the song “I Will Follow Him”* by Peggy March and thinking that it could very well be a song of praise to God. Over the years I’ve heard a lot of love songs that work as well. So if you hear me singing or whistling a love tune, quite possibly I’m praising His name.

*Love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow
I will follow him, follow him wherever he may go
There isn’t an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep me away
I must follow him (follow him), ever since he touched my hand I knew
That near him I always must be
And nothing can keep him from me
He is my destiny (destiny)
I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow
He’ll always be my true love, my true love, my true love
From now until forever, forever, forever
I will follow him (follow him), follow him wherever he may go
There isn’t an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep, keep me away
Away from my love (I love him, I love him, I love him)
I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow
He’ll always be my true love, my true love, my true love
From now until forever, forever, forever
I will follow him (follow him), follow him wherever he may go
There isn’t an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep, keep me away
Away from my love
And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow
I know I’ll always love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow
I know I’ll always love him, I love him, I love him
Songwriters: Norman Gimbel / Arthur Altman / Jacques Plante / Del Roma / J. W. Stole
I Will Follow Him lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES

Psalms 51:3-7
“Why do you glory in malice, you who are powerful in iniquity? All day long your tongue thinks up injustice. Like a sharp razor, you have wrought deceit. You have loved malice above goodness, and iniquity more than speaking righteousness. You have loved all precipitous words, you deceitful tongue. Because of this, God will destroy you in the end. He will pull you up, and he will remove you from your tabernacle and your root from the land of the living.”

By a show of hands how many of you have children? Okay, again raise your hands if you’ve ever been a child? Alright, put your hands down. I can’t see you and you look silly.

How many times have you heard and/or said, “I’m only going to tell you one more time”? What happens next depends on the child. They obey or they receive the consequences of their actions. Right? Why do parents correct their children?

  • To keep them from harm

  • To keep them from mistakes

  • To train them

  • Because they love them

God, our father, warns his people many times over about the consequences of their actions. If he is obeyed, the consequences disappear. If not, they come to pass.

I reject the idea of a hateful, vengeful God. God doesn’t so much bring about calamity, as step back and allow the consequences of OUR actions.

I believe in a loving God. And I believe that God corrects those whom he loves.

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TEAR YOUR HEART NOT YOUR CLOTHES

Joel 2:12-13
“But even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart– with fasting, crying, and mourning.” Tear your hearts, not your clothes. Return to the LORD your God. He is merciful and compassionate, patient, and always ready to forgive and to change his plans about disaster.”

Too often I’m much more in my head than I am in my heart. However my most honest prayers are emotional. Those times when I am so filled with joy that i can’t contain it. So I turn to the Lord with praise and thanksgiving. Or conversely when my heart is broken with such great sorrow that i can’t even put words to it when “the Spirit himself intercedes for us (me) through wordless groans.”

Our personal prayers are just that – personal. The prophet Joel said to tear your heart not your clothes. It was a custom, when in mourning or as an act of repentance, to tear strips of clothing as an outward sign. Joel was reminding his listeners that the inward was more important than the outward.

Fasting is not dieting. Fasting is an act of sacrifice. Biblically fasting is a way of intensifying the prayer.

Jesus also warms us to not put on a “show” with our prayers and fasting.

Matthew 6:16-18
“When you fast, stop looking sad like hypocrites. They put on sad faces to make it obvious that they’re fasting. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward. When you fast, wash your face and comb your hair. Then your fasting won’t be obvious. Instead, it will be obvious to your Father who is with you in private. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you.

We are currently in the season of Lent, which is a time of reflection, remorse, and repentance before the celebration of Easter. Traditionally people “give up” that is to sacrifice something during this time. Just remember to “wash your face and comb your hair” while your heart is torn.

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SHUT UP AND LISTEN – Part 2

Acts 2:1-4
“When Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover, came, all the believers were together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like a violently blowing wind came from the sky and filled the whole house where they were staying. Tongues that looked like fire appeared to them. The tongues arranged themselves so that one came to rest on each believer. All the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak.”

Every once in a while I say something profound. When I do, I have to give the credit to the Spirit Of God. As it says in Luke 12:12 “At that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.”

Case in point: yesterday I ended my musing with this: “How often have I missed a blessing because my mouth was open so far that it covered my ears? How often have I not heard, “Be still and know I am God.””

I have been begging God for the Holy Spirit to fall afresh on this world, on this nation, on this community, and on me.

Yesterday morning as I knelt in prayer, I took my own advice and I shut up and listened. Instead of praising God, or presenting concerns, I simply prayed, “Speak LORD for your servant is listening.”

I’ll admit it was hard to concentrate on just listening. My mind would begin to wander and I would have to repeat to the LORD that I was listening.

My bedroom window was open just a tiny crack. The wind was blowing through the screen on the window. And even though it was only a gentle wind outside, as it rushed through that small openings, the sound was intensified.

The more intently I tried to listen for the LORD, the louder the wind sounded. I was becoming irritated that this was distracting me from my meditation. And then I remembered, “Suddenly, a sound like a violently blowing wind came from the sky and filled the whole house.”

I began to chuckle and said, “Alright, LORD, I hear you. Your Spirit is already at work on the world and in me.”

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SHUTUP AND LISTEN

Proverbs 28:9
“Surely the prayer of someone who refuses to listen to God’s teachings is disgusting.”

I once worked with two people who were constantly arguing. They were so contentious that they never really listen to the other person. It was as if, while the other spoke, they were just inhaling and waiting their turn to speak. What they never heard was that often they were arguing on the same side! They were so busy preparing their argument, so sure that the other was wrong that they closed their ears and refused to hear that they were actually in agreement.

I wonder how many times I’ve gone to the LORD in prayer with my list of concerns, my want list, and my grievances; and not be prepared to listen?

How often have I missed a blessing because my mouth was open so far that it covered my ears? How often have I not heard, “Be still and know I am God.”

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WHAT IS IN A NAME?

Daniel 1:1-7
“In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and attacked it. The Lord handed King Jehoiakim of Judah and some utensils from God’s temple over to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar took the utensils to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put them in the temple treasury. The king told Ashpenaz, the chief-of-staff, to bring some of the Israelites, the royal family, and the nobility. They were to be young men who were healthy, good-looking, knowledgeable in all subjects, well-informed, intelligent, and able to serve in the king’s palace. They were to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king arranged for them to get a daily allowance of the king’s rich food and wine. They were to be trained for three years. After that, they were to serve the king. Among these young men were some Judeans: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief-of-staff gave them Babylonian names: To Daniel he gave the name Belteshazzar. To Hananiah he gave the name Shadrach. To Mishael he gave the name Meshach. And to Azariah he gave the name Abednego.”

My name is Thomas which is the Greek form of the Aramaic name תָּאוֹמָא (Ta’oma’) which meant “twin”.

Once in a job interview I was asked, “Do you prefer Thomas, Tom, or Tommy?” I replied that too one, still alive, calls me Tommy.” To which they responded, “Oh, I’ll just call you mister Williams then,” I replied, “I didn’t say that I’d killed them.”

Shakespeare wrote, “What is in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Which would indicate that the name is of no importance. That it is the nature of the person (or thing) that matters. There is some truth to that. And yet I read in Proverbs 22:1
“A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is better than silver or gold.”

In this scripture passage the king gave these Hebrew youth new names. You need to understand the meaning of the names to see why this was important.

Daniel = God is my Judge
Hananiah = God is Gracious
Mishael = who is like God
Azariah = God helps
Nebuchadnezzar changed their names to take away their allegiance from the God of Israel and give allegiance to the Babylonian gods as follows:
Daniel to Belshazzar meaning “Bel protect the King” (same name as Nebuchadnezzars Son or Grandson) and Bel was a Babylonian god
Hananiah to Shadaku meaning “command of Aku” a Babylonian god
Mishael to Meshaku the Babylonian moon god Aku
Azariah to Abednebo the Babylonian god of wisdom Nebo
As Daniel and his friends were very dedicated to the God of Israel, it is common sense they would not accept these names. Daniel changed the names slightly and just enough to take away the allegiance to the Babylonian gods as follows:
Daniel to Belshazzar to Belteshazzar (it is said that adding the TE may mean “Bel NOT to protect the King” changing the meaning altogether)
Hananiah to Shadaku to Shadrach
Mishael to Meshaku to Meshach
Azariah to Abednebo to Abednego

(For more see https://www.quora.com/Why-was-Daniel-given-the-name-Belteshazzar)

What does your name mean? Does it fit you? What would you name yourself?

I wonder what new name God will give me.

Revelation of John 2:17
Let the person who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give some of the hidden manna to everyone who wins the victory. I will also give each person a white stone with a new name written on it, a name that is known only to the person who receives it.

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KNOWLEDGE IS LEARNED. WISDOM IS GIVEN.

The saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” And that is true. Knowledge is like a mighty race car. However, unless that car is under the guidance of a capable driver, it serves no purpose.

Wisdom is what puts knowledge to work.

By all means seek knowledge. But pray also that the Lord our God grants you wisdom it your knowledge is worthless.

Psalms 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Good sense is shown by everyone who follows God’s guiding principles. His praise continues forever.

I’M A SELF MADE MAN!

And it is a fine example of unskilled labor. Grin.

One of the advantages of growing up poor (yes, I said advantage) was when you don’t have money, you have to become creative with what you do have. I’ve made passable drill bits from old screwdrivers, and screwdrivers out of nails. I’ve spent hours hammering bent nails straight again.

I know how to make butter and ice cream. I also know how to make mayonnaise, ketchup, cottage cheese and more. I learned early on the old adage “If it’s supposed to move and doesn’t – WD40. If it moved and it’s not supposed to – duct tape. There point is, when something is needed, you learn to make a “work-around”.

My parents were in their fires when I was born and my father died before my fifth birthday. Mom was never in good health. And, thought she tried, there were thing she was unable to do. Growing up fatherless there were a lot of things that I had to figure out on my own. I became confident and proud of my abilities.

And then, in my early twenties, God came into my life. I was offered the gift of salvation. And I didn’t know how to accept it. I felt the need to earn it. But that’s not how God works. “Being saved is a gift from God.”

Ephesians 2:8-10
God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.

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Isaiah 25:6-9
On this mountain the LORD of Armies will prepare for all people a feast with the best foods, a banquet with aged wines, with the best foods and the finest wines. On this mountain he will remove the veil of grief covering all people and the mask covering all nations. He will swallow up death forever. The Almighty LORD will wipe away tears from every face, and he will remove the disgrace of his people from the whole earth. The LORD has spoken. On that day his people will say, “This is our God; we have waited for him, and now he will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him. Let us rejoice and be glad because he will save us.”

His people

All people

Every nation

That sounds pretty INCLUSIVE doesn’t it?

Why do we work so hard at being EXCLUSIVE?

Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.

Okay, I can do that … almost.

Then he said love your enemy. Wait a minute. Really?

Really!

We are ALL God’s children and it is not His will the any should perish.

His promise is for everyone of His people.

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CUSTOMER SERVIC

Jeremiah 33:2-3
“I made the earth, formed it, and set it in place. My name is the LORD. This is what the LORD says: Call to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you great and mysterious things that you do not know.”

Yesterday I placed several calls to businesses. Each time I was greeted by automated voice systems. You know what I’m talking about, right? Push 1 for this option or 2 for that. And none of them are the answer to your reason for calling. Most of us know by now that my dialing 0 you may be able to speak to a real live person. But first you hear, “Please hold for the next available agent (did they just say Asian?). Your call will be answered in the order it was received. Do not hang up and redial. Due to higher than normal traffic, your wait time will be 16 minutes.” You sit and listen to elevator music which is intermittently interrupted by a canned voice telling you, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.” 53 minutes later you finally reach a human, who listens and then says, “Please hold and I’ll transfer you to that department.”

Only after your patience had been pushed to its limits, do you get to talk to someone who says, “I’ve made note of your request and someone will get back to you in the next three to five business days.”

Thank God that He hears and He answers. I’m so glad that I can speak directly to Him anytime and anywhere. Amen?

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TOO SOON OLD. TOO LATE WISE

As we look backward on our lives, we begin to see the rise and fall of our peacefulness and our pain. Like equal weights upon a balance scale.

I’m glad that God is just. However, I’m grateful and overjoyed that he is merciful.

I tremble at his justice. But I sing of his mercy. This is His great power to temper his justice with His love.

Psalms 90:12-16
Teach us to number each of our days so that we may grow in wisdom. Return, LORD! How long…? Change your plans about us, your servants. Satisfy us every morning with your mercy so that we may sing joyfully and rejoice all our days. Make us rejoice for as many days as you have made us suffer, for as many years as we have experienced evil. Let us, your servants, see what you can do. Let our children see your glorious power.

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I CONFESS

Now this is how to confess to God.

Nehemiah 1:5-7
I said, “LORD God of heaven, great and awe-inspiring God, you faithfully keep your promise and show mercy to those who love you and obey your commandments. Open your eyes, and pay close attention with your ears to what I, your servant, am praying. I am praying to you day and night about your servants the Israelites. I confess the sins that we Israelites have committed against you as well as the sins that my father’s family and I have committed. We have done you a great wrong. We haven’t obeyed the commandments, laws, or regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

Do you want the Lord’s full and undivided attention on you?

Can you stand (or fall on your knees) before the Lord and say

“Open your eyes, and pay close attention with your ears to what I, your servant, am praying.”

Substitute the word Israelites with the name of your nation, or race, or religion, or gender, or group, or club or whatever group of people with whom you identify. Start big and keep narrowing it down to yourself. Then be truthful, be brutally honest with yourself and God.