Musings April 2018

MUSING – April 30 2018

YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE

 

Jonah 1:1-3
The LORD spoke his word to Jonah, son of Amittai. He said,  “Leave at once for the important city, Nineveh. Announce to the people that I can no longer overlook the wicked things they have done.”  Jonah immediately tried to run away from the LORD by going to Tarshish. He went to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid for the trip and went on board. He wanted to go to Tarshish to get away from the LORD.  

    Have you ever wondered how God chooses the people to whom he assigns special tasks? I have. It often appears that he intentionally picks the worst possible candidate. He then says something like don’t be afraid and by the way I’m sending to the most frightening place you can think of.

  • Abraham / Abram was already a senior citizen who lived in one of the largest cities of the day. Good told him to GO but didn’t provide a map.
  • Moses the Hebrew who grew up in a palace and was tested as a son to the man who enslaved his people. He killed a man then ran and hid in the dessert. God called this person who was out of touch with his own kind, to go back to the land where he was wanted for murder. Not just go back, but to free the Hebrews form the mightiest king.
  • Gideon, who by his own words was the least of the least, of the least, of the least. He was told to take an extremely small army of 300 men into battles against 135,000 seasoned Midianite troops who had been a plague on the land for years.
  • And Jonah was told to go to the capital city of his people worst enemy. However he wasn’t sent to destroy them but to save them. He tried to run and hide but God had a plan for him.

    God had a plan for you. And the odds are good that it will take you far outside your comfort zone. But remember, the battle is LORD’S you just to be faithful.

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 29 2018

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

Lamentations 3:21-25
    “The reason I can still find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind:  the LORD’s mercy. We were not completely wiped out. His compassion is never limited.  It is new every morning. His faithfulness is great. My soul can say, ‘The LORD is my lot in life. That is why I find hope in him.’  The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to anyone who seeks help from him.”

 

Lamentations synonyms: weeping, wailing, crying, sobbing, moaning, lament, keening, grieving, mourning
“the survivors’ lamentation”

 

    Why is there author of Lamentations     grieving? Chapter one verse five gives the short answer, “The LORD made Zion suffer for its many rebellious acts.”

Jerusalem, once the shining city on a hill, had between destroyed. It’s walls broken, gates are down and the streets are empty. It’s people marched off to slavery. They had been warned … repeatedly, by many prophets. But the people had become arrogant saying to themselves, “We have become the mighty nation on Earth. Nothing can touch us.” they abandoned God and trusted in their own might and their own righteousness.

    I fear for my nation for I see the same things happening here. I’m no prophet. I have no special vision from the Lord, however with my own eyes I see and with my own ears I hear the Godlessness around me.

    What is the cure? 2 Chronicles 7:14 has the answer, “However, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country.”

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 28 2018

WHAT’S NEW WITH YOU?

Acts 9:1-6
Saul kept threatening to murder the Lord’s disciples. He went to the chief priest  and asked him to write letters of authorization to the synagogue leaders in the city of Damascus. Saul wanted to arrest any man or woman who followed the way of Christ and imprison them in Jerusalem.  As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked, “Who are you, sir?” The person replied, “I’m Jesus, the one you’re persecuting.  Get up! Go into the city, and you’ll be told what you should do.”

 

    The conversion story of Saul to Paul has always donated me. Saul was a devout Jew. A religious man s so protective of his beliefs that he was willing to kill those whom he judged to be wrong. He thought he was doing God’s will. And then he met Jesus.

    Jesus changes everything. He always has and always will be the agent of change.* Some people’s lives are changed dramatically like Saul/Paul while some are just a slight course correction.

    Perhaps you were raised in a Christian home and have believed in Jesus from an early age and have always accepted him as your lord and saviour. Or maybe like Saul you needed to be knocked down so that you had to look up, be blinded so that you could see.

    What is your conversion story? How is your life different than it was or could have been? Have you shared your story with others? Have you shared the good news with others?

 

*John 1:3 and Hebrews 13:8

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 27 2018

WHAT IS IT ABOUT “IT’S A GIFT” THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND?

Acts 8:15-20
    “Peter and John went to Samaria and prayed that the Samaritans would receive the Holy Spirit.  (Before this the Holy Spirit had not come to any of the Samaritans. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. Simon saw that the Spirit was given to the Samaritans when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered Peter and John money  and said, “Give me this power so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter told Simon, “May your money be destroyed with you because you thought you could buy God’s gift.”

 

    Why were Peter and John so upset with Simon’s offer to give money to them?

   At least once a year every pastor in the world preaches on giving. As I’m writing this our church in Texas is starting a Capitol Campaign to raise money so that the church’s debt can be lessened. Churches, businesses, families and individuals need money – that is a fact of life.

    But does God needed money? Of course not! To think that the Creator of everything, the Owner of everything, needs our money, it’s to think Him too small.

    However, God allows us to demonstrate our love and obedience through our giving.* In this way we become a partner in His ministries to the world.

    I’ll repeat the question I asked before: Why were Peter and John so upset with Simon’s offer to give money to them? Read the rest of Acts 8 and you’ll see that until he became a Christian, he had been an amazing magician who claimed great power. Simon now saw real power and wanted it for himself. Simon was trying to buy something that is given for free.**

   Well, if not our money, or our sacrifice, what does God really want from us? “To do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God.”***

 

*Malachi 3:7-8
**Ephesians 1:7

***Micah 6:8

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 26 2018

I WILL FLY

Isaiah 40:28-31
     “Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The eternal God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t grow tired or become weary. His understanding is beyond reach.  He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak. Even young people grow tired and become weary, and young men will stumble and fall.  Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won’t become weary. They will walk and won’t grow tired.”

 

    My legs and feet hurt. It is early in the morning and I’m still lying on my bed. My feet haven’t even touched the floor yet.

    There is a saying, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.”* At seventy one I can say I agree with that. And yet, for all that’s wrong with me I’m in pretty good shape.

    I have marginal hearing, yet my Lord speaks to me. Can’t see to read without my glasses, yet the word of God is within me. Have trouble remembering, yet I know whom I have believed in. I have trouble standing, yet I’ll stands on the word of God. I am weak, yet in my weakness I am able to do all things in Christ who strengthens me.**. My body is slowly failing but my spirit is soaring.

    Come fly with me.

 

*Bette Davis

**Philippians 4:13

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 25 2018

CHUCK NORRIS?

Psalms 3
    “O LORD, look how my enemies have increased! Many are attacking me.  Many are saying about me, “Even with God on his side, he won’t be victorious.” Selah  But you, O LORD, are a shield that surrounds me. You are my glory. You hold my head high.   

    I call aloud to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah  I lie down and sleep. I wake up again because the LORD continues to support me.  I am not afraid of the tens of thousands who have taken positions against me on all sides.  Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! You have slapped all my enemies in the face. You have smashed the teeth of wicked people.  Victory belongs to the LORD! May your blessing rest on your people. Selah “

 

    You know Chuck Norris the martial artist, movie and TV star as though guy who can take down any bad guy. Have heard Chuck Norris jokes?

 

  • Chuck Norris’ facial hair is known to cut diamonds.*
  • When an episode of Walker Texas Ranger was aired in France, the French surrendered to Chuck Norris just to be on the safe side.*
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t bowl strikes, he just knocks down one pin and the other nine faint*
  • And my favourite: Before the boogeyman goes to sleep, here checks under the bed for Chuck Norris.*

 

    Now you’re asking yourself, “Why are you telling us Chuck Norris jokes?”

    Because when I read, “O my God! You have slapped all my enemies in the face. You have smashed the teeth of wicked people.” it made me think of an action adventure movie where the victim is surrounded by tens of thousands on every side. But that doesn’t stop our hero who fights his way through these legions and then stands guard over the victim so that he can sleep peacefully. And no one cares to attack.

    David may have taken some poetic license in this Psalm but he new fullwell what it was like to be a hunted man. King Saul personally tried to kill David. When that failed he sent his army after David.**. But David trusted God to be his shield and was able to rest in His assurances.

    We have a mighty God who is greater than all of our troubles.

 

*Authors unknown

**1 Samuel 19

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 24 2018

WHICH BIRD ARE YOU?

Psalms 1:1-3
    “Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers.  Rather, he delights in the teachings of the LORD and reflects on his teachings day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams– a tree that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does.

 

   “A man is known by the company he keeps.”*  Birds of a feather flock together.”**

   There are so many ways to describe a personality using a bird analogy. Are you a hawk or a dove? Or are you a chicken or am eagle? Maybe you’re a turkey. Do you strut and crow like a rooster? Are you proud as a peacock, or as gracefully as a swan?

    Be careful of the friend you choose and the leaders that you follow. There are true friends and honest leaders. However there are also many who aren’t. Examine yourself and your friends in the light of God’s word.  

     What fruit do they bear? What fruit do you bear?

 

*Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE.

**In 1545, William Turner wrote “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 23 2018

O BE CAREFUL

1 Corinthians 8:8-9, 11-12
Food will not affect our relationship with God. We are no worse off if we eat that food and no better off if we don’t.  But be careful that by using your freedom you don’t somehow make a believer who is weak in faith fall into sin.

In that case, your knowledge is ruining a believer whose faith is weak, a believer for whom Christ died.  When you sin against other believers in this way and harm their weak consciences, you are sinning against Christ.”

 

    Though this warning from Paul was about eating food considered by some to be forbidden, it made me think of this children’s song:

“O be careful little hands what you doq
O be careful little hands what you do
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little hands what you do”*

There are verses that cover just about any activity.

    It is important to be careful how we live our lives. First of all so that we don’t wander from the path that God has laid out for us, but also do that we don’t cause others to fall from the path.

    The moment that we accept Jesus as your saviour he also becomes our Lord. Which means our life is no longer our own, we belong to him. Our goal is to become like him. And others are watching. As we become imitators of Christ so will others become imitators of us. So be careful little Christian what you do.

 

*Author Unknown.

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 22 2018

 

Deuteronomy 10:16-18
     “So circumcise your uncircumcised hearts, and don’t be impossible to deal with any longer.  The LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, powerful, and awe-inspiring God. He never plays favorites and never takes a bribe.

 

    Circumcision is a sacrifice, a physical representation of abandoning self will and accepting God’s will.* It is also a type of death of life in the flesh. Life in the flesh leads to death while life in the Spirit leads to life and peace.**

    Belief in and obedience to God is the circumcision of the heart that God , through Moses, demands of God’s followers. Jesus, by being compliant to the will of God***, became the embodiment of the circumcised heart.****

    Choose obedience to God and life in the Spirit, change your heart.

    

*Genius 17:10

**Romans 8:16

***Luke 22:42

****Colossians 2:11

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 21 2018

KNOWLEDGE ITSELF IS POWER*

Proverbs 3:21-26
    “My son, do not lose sight of these things. Use priceless wisdom and foresight.  Then they will mean life for you, and they will grace your neck. Then you will go safely on your way, and you will not hurt your foot.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid. As you lie there, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the destruction of wicked people when it comes.  The LORD will be your confidence. He will keep your foot from getting caught.”

 

    Seek knowledge but moreover seek wisdom. Knowledge may be power but wisdom is the proper application of that power.

    Knowledge is neither good nor evil. Wisdom, however, forces a moral judgement upon the use of knowledge.

    There are countless examples of educated fools because, “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” So I encourage you to learn all you are able. Then pray for wisdom. For wisdom is a gift from God.***

 

*Bacon’s Meditationes Sacrae (1597)

**An Essay on Criticism, by Alexander Pope 1709

***Proverbs 2:6

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 20 2018

I AM SAFE IN HIS PRESENCE

Psalms 23
The LORD is my shepherd. I am never in need.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters.  He renews my soul. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name.  Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage.  You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the LORD’s house for days without end.”

 

    This Psalm can arguably be called the most familiar chapter of the Bible. I have used a more modern version here than the King James that is more familiar. I find that different versions may give me new insights into familiar passages.

    I’m concentrating on the following section of the Psalm. “Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage.”

    The first thing that pops out at me here is that the Shepherd doesn’t lead his sheep around or away from this valley. But goes with them through the valley of death. Did you hear that? Through and with. Because the Shepherd is with them there is no fear. They trust in him to keep them safe even in this dark place.

     The Shepherd tools reassure the sheep that everything will be alright. The rod is a weapon to be used in defense or offence as needed. So the sheep are comforted knowing that the Shepherd has the strength, ability, and took to protect them from those that would do them harm.

     The staff was a long stick with a curved end that could be used as a weapon if needed, but its primary purpose is to protect the sheep from themselves. The staff corrects the path of wayward sheep by general nudges or perhaps not so general for those more prone to wander. The crooked end is perfect for lifting those who have fallen or become stuck.

      There rod to protect from outside threats and the staff to protect them from themselves.

    Truly ,I fear no harm, he is with me.

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 19 2018

THIS IS MY SON, LISTEN TO HIM!*

 

1 John 3:21-23
Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we can boldly look to God  and receive from him anything we ask. We receive it because we obey his

commandments and do what pleases him.   This is his commandment: to believe in his Son, the one named Jesus Christ, and to love each other as he commanded us.”

 

  How much is your immortal soul worth to you? Don’t let it become malnourished. Feed it every day. Read the Bible. Listen, I’ll say it again. Read the Bible. Read it all. Read some every day. Find a reading plan to read it through in a year or two or …  Pay special attention to the red letters in the new testament, the words of Jesus. We are commanded by God to listen to Jesus*. In case you haven’t gotten the message yet, he speaks to us through the Bible.

   Don’t trust any teacher, preacher, evangelist, prophet, author, or me with your eternal life without fact checking them against what the scripture says.**

     Know the truth and be free.***

*Matthew 17:5

**Matthew 24:5-11

***John 8:31-32

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 18 2018

GO SAVE YOUR PEOPLE

Judges 6:11-16
    “Then an Angel of the Lord arrived, and he sat under an oak tree, which was at Ophrah, and which belonged to Joash, the father of the family of Ezri. And while his son Gideon was threshing and cleaning the grain at the winepress, so that he might flee from Midian, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and he said: “The Lord is with you, most valiant of men.” And Gideon said to him: “I beg you, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why have these things happened to us? Where are his miracles, which our fathers described when they said, ‘The Lord led us away from Egypt.’ But now the Lord has forsaken us, and he has delivered us into the hand of Midian.” And the Lord looked down upon him, and he said: “Go forth with this, your strength, and you shall free Israel from the hand of Midian. Know that I have sent you.” And responding, he said: “I beg you, my lord, with what shall I free Israel? Behold, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in the house of my father.” And the Lord said to him: “I will be with you. And so, you shall cut down Midian as if one man.”

 

    The story of Gideon in Judges chapter six through eight has always fascinated me. I recommend that you read it for yourself. There are a lot of things going on in this account that can reassure you when the odds are against you.

     However, the part of the story that intrigues me the most is the greeting Gideon received from the angel of the LORD. The Lord is with you, most valiant of men.” what makes this interesting is that Gideon is hiding in a wine press so that the Midianites don’t see him and come, kill him, and take the wheat.

    The Midianites came like a plague of locusts. Year after year an innumerable multitude of men would come and steal or destroy everything, devastating whatever they touched.*

     So, with good reason, Gideon was hiding when the LORD appears to him with that remarkable greeting, most valiant of men. Valor is not a common place term anymore so here is what it means, “great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle.”

   While Gideon viewed himself as the least of the least, the LORD saw him as the right person to free his people. He is sent in his own strength plus that of the LORD’s and it is more than enough.

    It is your turn. Go in your strength and the power of God to save your community, your state, your nation, your world.

*Judges 6:5

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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_MUSING – April 17 2018

THE RIVER OF GOD’S PLEASURE

Psalms 36:7-10
    “Your mercy is so precious, O God, that Adam’s descendants take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They are refreshed with the rich foods in your house, and you make them drink from the river of your pleasure.  Indeed, the fountain of life is with you. In your light we see light. Continue to show your mercy to those who know you and your righteousness to those whose motives are decent.”

 

    The psalmist in a few words paints a beautiful picture of the paradise of God’s presence. In the shadow of his wings speaks to the loving protection of our LORD. Held close and sheltered next to Him no harm can come to us.

    We come to His table and are treated to the best foods and drinks. I have dual images in my mind here. The image of a large family gathering around the dinner table laughing and taking and enjoying each other’s company as they eat their fill. The other image that comes to mind is the communion table where we dine on the greatest meal ever prepared, the body and blood of God’s holy Son.

    We will be refreshed by the crystal clear living waters of the Spirit that fills us.

   As we stand in His light, where no darkness can be found, we see true light for the first time. This light does not cast shadows it destroys the darkness completely.

   Oh how I long for this. Come Lord. Come quickly. Amen.

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 16 2018

HEAVENLY LIGHTHOUSE

Psalms 37:1-6
    “Do not be preoccupied with evildoers. Do not envy those who do wicked things.  They will quickly dry up like grass and wither away like green plants. Trust the LORD, and do good things. Live in the land, and practice being faithful.  Be happy with the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act on your behalf. He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.”

 

    I watch the news and I become stunned by the evil that is loose in this world. I use the word stunned on purpose because it means “astonish or shock (someone) so that they are temporarily unable to react.” that is how I react or fail to react to man’s inhumanity. Their godlessness overwhelms me.

    This inability to act is a trick of the evil one. He wants us stunned into inactivity. This is not the will of the LORD. His perfect will is that we:

  • trust the LORD,
  • do good things.
  • Live in the land
  • practice being faithful.  
  • be happy with the LORD.

    Then will we become beacons of light in this dark world. Become a lighthouse that leads others safely into His presence. AMEN.

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 15 2018

UNDERSTATED SCRIPTURE

Joshua 5:10-12
“The people of Israel camped at Gilgal in the Jericho plain. There they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month.  On the day after the Passover, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened bread and roasted grain.  The day after that, the manna stopped. The people of Israel never had manna again. That year they began to eat the crops that grew in Canaan.”

 

    At first glance this section of scripture seems so bland, so ordinary that you could easily miss the revolutionary things that are happening.

     First thing of importance is the fact that they are about to enter the Promised Land. The reality here is that they are about to go to war. This is a war nearly forty years in the making. If the previous generation had been obedient when they first came to this spot, God would have cleared the land before them.  But they chickened out. Now this generation were going to have to fight their way in.

    Secondly they just celebrated the Passover for only the third time since the flight from Egypt. For all those years of wandering they had not offered the sacrificial lamb. Truly this was a historic moment.

    The third thing of note here is that God was no longer going to be directly feeding them. Their infancy as a nation was over. They were now on their own two feet … but God would still hold their hands.

    Remember when you read these seemingly unimportant passages that all scripture is given for a reason.*

 

*2 Timothy 3:16-17

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – April 14 2018

 

Malachi 2:10
“Don’t all of us have the same father? Hasn’t the same God created us? Why are we unfaithful to each other? And why do we dishonor the promise given to our ancestors?”

    My father’s father is a mystery to me. My father was raised by a stepdad. My father used his stepfather’s name but it was never legally changed. That last name became legally mine on the day I was born … it is on my birth certificate. Otherwise my last name would be Audley.

    Not only is that paternal grandfather a mystery, so is my father. He died while I was quite young and I have no real memories of him. All I have are stories, and not many of those.

    However, I do know who my Heavenly Father is. It is He who gives me my true name.* Plus, because he is the Father of all, that means everyone everywhere, and every-when are my siblings. We are family and we should treat each other that respect.

    How can you show that brotherly or sisterly love today? If you honestly believe that we are family, how does that change how you treat those who look or speak differently?

 

*Revelation 2:17

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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– April 13 2018

WHAT MORE COULD I HAVE DONE?*

Let me tell you a story of a head-strong, self-willed child. Before she could walk, she climbed into the couch and turned the dial on the thermostat. We had hot water heat, so by the time we noticed how warm it was becoming and adjusted the thermostat, it took an hour or so to cool down.

    A couple days later I saw her on the couch and at the thermostat again. I took her down and in my sternest father voice, said, “NO!” she immediately went back to the dial. I took her down, swated her hand and repeated the NO. Once again the went back to it. I took her down, swatted her bottom and said, “No.” Right back up to it she went once more. I have up and moved the couch.

 

Galatians 4:8-11
When you didn’t know God, you were slaves to things which are really not gods at all.  But now you know God, or rather, God knows you. So how can you turn back again to the powerless and bankrupt principles of this world? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again?  You religiously observe days, months, seasons, and years! I’m afraid for you. Maybe the hard work I spent on you has been wasted.”

 

    Does Paul sound frustrated to you? He does to me. It is the frustration of the parent, preacher, teacher, or leader who had done all that they can to make sure those in their charge are following their lead. God*, Moses**, and Jesus*** certainly have felt this frustration.

    

    As leaders, what more can we do to train up our people in the proper way? What can we as followers do to ease the frustration of our LORD.

    

 

“Isaiah 5:1-7

**Numbers 11:15

***Luke 13:34

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSING – April 12 2018

TOO SMALL

Mark 6:54-56
“As soon as they stepped out of the boat, the people recognized Jesus.  They ran all over the countryside and began to carry the sick on cots to any place where they heard he was.  Whenever he would go into villages, cities, or farms, people would put their sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch the edge of his clothes. Everyone who touched his clothes was made well.”

 

    Can’t you just hear the excitement in the voices of these people? “The healer had landed at our shoes. Bring the sick to be healed!” And they came running. Really running to be first in line to be healed of their illnesses and infirmities. Relatives and friends carrying those unable to reach him on their own.

     And he healed them even if they only got close enough to touch his clothing. The more he healed, the more they came crowding in around him. What power was cracking through the air.

   And yet, these people came with too small of reasons and requests. He came to do so much more than make the lane to walk and the blind to see. He came to set free their immortal souls.*

    Yes, Jesus cares about our mortal bodies and our daily lives. But how much more concerned is he with our forever-lives?

    When you come to the Lord seek first the kingdom of God and the remainder will also be given.**

 

*Luke 4:17-21 and Isaiah 61:1

**Matthew 6:33

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSING – April 11 2018

I’M NOT AS SMART AS I THINK I AM

Romans 11:33-34
“God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep that it is impossible to explain his decisions or to understand his ways.  “Who knows how the Lord thinks? Who can become his adviser?”

 

     Ouch! That question about who can be God’s adviser strikes too close to home for me. I am a good problem solver. It is something that I’ve done my whole life.

    While others were seeking to place blame for the situation, I would look for a way to fix it. While others were listing all the things that couldn’t be done, I would look for what could be done, no matter how small, that would get us headed toward a bigger solution.

    The first part of fixing something is to believe it can be fixed. Imagine what it looks like in its most perfect state and then work toward that goal,

    Way to often when I go to God with a concern, I already have a path laid out. God seldom follows my well thought out plan. Frankly, the way I recognize that the solution came from Him is that it so totally different and unexpected.

  William Cowper understood that when he wrote the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

 

“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.


His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.


Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.”

 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8

 

    So, if like me, you are looking to be God’s advisor, try instead to be His follower.

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSING – April 10 2018

BE A WATER BOTTLE

John 7:37-39
    “Then, on the last great day of the feast, Jesus was standing and crying out, saying: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink: whoever believes in me, just as Scripture says, ‘From his chest shall flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now he said this about the Spirit, which those who believe in him would soon be receiving. For the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

 

John 4:10
    “Jesus replied to her (a Samaritan woman at the well), “If you only knew what God’s gift is and who is asking you for a drink, you would have asked him for a drink. He would have given you living water.

 

     In these two verses Jesus speaks of giving Living Water (the Spirit of God) as a gift. It is a gift that is ours for the asking. The LORD is the fountain of Living Water*. And it is He who sends the Holy Spirit at the request of the Son**.

 

Matthew 28:19
      “So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. “

    We are to carry the Good News with us and share it with those with whom we come in contact. We have a spring of Living Water gushing from within us. We are the LORD’S water bottle filled to overflowing that others may receive. Go therefore into your world and hydrate those thirsty souls.

 

*Jeremiah 17:13

**John 16:7-15

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSINGS – APRIL 09 MONDAY

HELP THE HELPLESS

Psalms 146:7-9
He brings about justice for those who are oppressed. He gives food to those who are hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free.  The LORD gives sight to blind people. The LORD straightens the backs of those who are bent over. The LORD loves righteous people.  The LORD protects foreigners. The LORD gives relief to orphans and widows. But he keeps wicked people from reaching their goal.

    There are dozens of scriptures where God’s people are commanded to care for widows, orphans, foreigners. This three groups are singled out because they have no legal standing in society. They are lower than the low and unable to help themselves. In many places the blind, deaf, and infirm are also commanded to our care.

    In Matthew 25 Jesus gives credit to those who care for the needy as though they were doing it for Christ himself.

     There are an estimated 553,742 people in the United States experiencing homelessness on a given night, according to the most recent national point-in-time estimate.

    Liberty Hill Texas is a small town (967 by last census though it has expand considerably since) in the hill country outside Austin. There are at least three homeless shelters here. Many children in school system are homeless. Outside of the school, they lack many of the basic needs like food, water (drinking and bathing), shelter from the elements. And yet these are more fortunate than those who are even further outside the system.

    You, good people, are commanded to help. Churches and other organizations are good places to start. Donate or volunteer your time. Would it be totally unreasonable for you to feed a begger by handing them some food, taking them to a restaurant, or perhaps your home? Jesus didn’t think so.

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSINGS – April 08 2018 Sunday

THESE ARE NOT SUGGESTIONS

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Listen, Israel: The LORD is our God. The LORD is the only God.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Take to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up.  Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

  The ten laws were not suggestions, they were commandments. They cover the essentials of how to have a proper relationship with God and man. After the congregation of Israel were given the ten commandments they were told to obey them, talk about them, reach them, write them down, and put them in places where you are constantly reminded of them.

    If I were to conduct a survey among those who call themselves Christians, I wonder how many could even tell me each of the ten commandments. Could you? How about the way that Jesus summarized them in Matthew 22:37-39?
     “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’

    How often do you remind yourself of God’s most important laws … and follow them?

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSING – April 07 2018

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR*

2 Peter 3:11-15a
“All these things will be destroyed in this way. So think of the kind of holy and godly lives you must live  as you look forward to the day of God and eagerly wait for it to come. When that day comes, heaven will be on fire and will be destroyed. Everything that makes up the universe will burn and melt.  But we look forward to what God has promised–a new heaven and a new earth–a place where everything that has God’s approval lives. Therefore, dear friends, with this to look forward to, make every effort to have him find you at peace, without spiritual stains or blemishes.  Think of our Lord’s patience as an opportunity for us to be saved.”

 

    Google “God is patient” and you will find over and over in scripture that we are assured that God is patient but that His patience is not endless with man’s wickedness.

    In the past humanity had become so lost to sin that the LORD destroyed it except for Noah, who found favor in His eyes. So Noah and his family were saved.**

    Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed when not even e righteous people were found.***

   Don’t be deceived God judgement will come. He is waiting for our sakes. Here is unwilling that any should perish so He is weighing us on the balance scale of judgement. And awaiting for His people to turn to Him or from Him in numbers known only to Him. But when that judgement comes, this world will be replaced with a new heaven and a new Earth.

   So live your life as holy and godly while praying, “Come, Lord, come quickly.”

 

*Matthew 4:17

**Genesis 6:7-8

***Genesis 18:32

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSING – April 06 2018

WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE HEART OF MAN

Psalms 75:6-7
“The authority to reward someone does not come from the east, from the west, or even from the wilderness.  God alone is the judge. He punishes one person and rewards another.

 

  “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”, was the introduction from The Shadow radio program which I listened to as a kid. (Ya I know, I’m older than dirt) But that creepy voice always sent chills through my young body. The Shadow will hunt down the evil doers and exact justice … or vengeance.

     Of all the superpowers that I dreamt of having (yes, I loved my comic books), “knowing the hearts of men” was never on my list. I didn’t even want to be able to read minds let alone know their secret desires and motives.

   And as human beings we are guilty of judging people by how they look, or talk, or act. Paul wrote, “I have a clear conscience, but that doesn’t mean I have God’s approval.”* if saint Paul could right that about himself how much less can we claim to have God’s approval? No wonder we are warned to judge not lest we be judged.**

    The best analogy that I can see is judging a sporting event. We may feel sure that we know the outcome of the event but we don’t actually know until it’s over. As humans we can, at best, judge people by their past and their present. However judges past, present, and future … as well as what lurks in their hearts.

   But even that is not final because not only is God just he is also merciful as had provided us a way of repentance and forgiveness. Through the sacrifice of Jesus our sins can (if we accept the gift) be covered in his blood so that when the Father looks at our lives, all he can see is Jesus.

  So be kind to one another. Lift each other in the love of God, for we do not know what evil or greatness it’s in their heart.

 

*1 Corinthians 4:4-5

**Matthew 7:1

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams.

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MUSING – April 05 2018

HOW WILL YOU KNOW?

2 John 9-11
“Everyone who doesn’t continue to teach what Christ taught doesn’t have God. The person who continues to teach what Christ taught has both the Father and the Son.   If anyone comes to you and doesn’t bring these teachings, don’t take him into your home or even greet him. Whoever greets him shares the evil things he’s doing.

    If anyone teaches or preaches something different than what Jesus taught and preached, how are you to know that you aren’t being deceived?

   There are powerful, charming, charismatic teachers and preachers who have large followings. Some because they say the things that people want to hear. And some because God has blessed them. How do you know which from which?

  It really is not difficult. Follow the one who teaches what Christ taught. But be careful not to let anyone deceive you. Many will come using Jesus’s name.* Just because they say, “Jesus said” doesn’t mean Jesus said or that the words weren’t taken out of context. How are you to know?

   There is only one way to know what Jesus taught … read the Bible. Read it prayerfully asking God to reveal his truth to you.

   Isn’t your eternal life worth a little study on your own?

*Matthew 24:4-5

 

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MUSING – April 04 2018

THE BUDDY SYSTEM

Ezekiel 33:8-9
Suppose I (God).say to a wicked person, ‘You wicked person, you will certainly die,’ and you say nothing to warn him to change his ways. That wicked person will die because of his sin, and I will hold you responsible for his death.  But if you warn a wicked person to turn from his ways and he doesn’t turn from them, then he will die because of his sin. However, you will save yourself.

 

Galatians 6:1

“Brothers and sisters, if a person gets trapped by wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should help that person turn away from doing wrong. Do it in a gentle way. At the same time watch yourself so that you also are not tempted.”  

 

   There are scriptures that bother me. The two quoted here are trouble me because they make me responsible (at least partially) for the sins of others. Isn’t it hard enough to be responsible for myself?

   I struggle daily with “not my will, but God’s will”. Though I truly want to follow His leading, I am a strong willed (stubborn, pig-headed) child of God.

   I remember holding my child’s hand as we walked through a busy parking lot. The child struggles to be free of my grasp so they can run on ahead. They would run and be completely unaware of the cars backing out of parking spots or suddenly coming around a corner. Often I am that child who would rush headlong into danger were it not for God’s hand holding me back.

   This scriptures bother me because they tell me God wants me to be His hands and hold onto my brother’s/sister’s hand for their safety.

   We are on the buddy system. You hold my hand and I’ll hold yours. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will keep each other safe.

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams. Its

MUSING – April 03 2018

I HAVE AN OILY BEARD

Psalms 133:1-2
“See how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony!  It is like fine, scented oil on the head, running down the beard–down Aaron’s beard– running over the collar of his robes.

    My children love and respect each other. It wasn’t always so, As youngsters, there were plenty of times that they would argue and fight … sometimes physically. However, as adults, they enjoy spending time together. It truly is a good and pleasant thing. I’m extremely proud of the people they’ve become.

   I think that this analogy works well in our schools, workplaces, and certainly in our churches. Where there is harmony in the group, the leader(s) of that group are blessed. Symbolically they have scented oil on their heads and beards.

 Does the leader of your group have an oily beard? If not, what can you do to change the situation?

 

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MUSING – April 02 2018

ENTER BEYOND THE GATES AND COURTYARD

 

Psalms 100
Shout happily to the LORD, all the earth.  Serve the LORD cheerfully. Come into his presence with a joyful song.  Realize that the LORD alone is God. He made us, and we are his. We are his people and the sheep in his care.  Enter his gates with a song of thanksgiving. Come into his courtyards with a song of praise. Give thanks to him; praise his name.  The LORD is good. His mercy endures forever. His faithfulness endures throughout every generation.  

 

    The psalmist rejoices that he may freely enter the temple’s gate and courtyard. What a blessing that is. However, in the time of his writing, only a very few were allowed behind the. Only the high priest was permitted to stand before the mercy seat, the throne of God.

    But that all changed because of Jesus’ sacrifice. At his death “the curtain in the temple was split in two from top to bottom.”* That which serrated us from God’s presence was removed. We now “(Jesus) a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin.  So we can go confidently to the throne of God’s kindness to receive mercy and find kindness,**

    Now we have a new and better reason to burst for in praise and songs of gladness.

 

    For what do you praise God this day? What is your song of gladness?

*Matthew 27:50-51

**Hebrews 4:14-16
© 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING _ April 01 2018

HURRY – HE IS RISEN

Matthew 28:1-10
After the day of worship, as the sun rose Sunday morning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  Suddenly, there was a powerful earthquake. An angel of the Lord had come down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and was sitting on it.  He was as bright as lightning, and his clothes were as white as snow. The guards were so deathly afraid of him that they shook. The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you’re looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He’s not here. He has been brought back to life as he said. Come, see the place where he was lying. Then go quickly, and tell his disciples that he has been brought back to life. He’s going ahead of them into Galilee. There they will see him. Take note that I have told you.”  They hurried away from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them and greeted them. They went up to him, bowed down to worship him, and took hold of his feet. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go, tell my followers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.”  

 

Go tell His followers, “You, hurry away from the tomb with fear and great joy and run to make new disciples.”

© 2018 Thomas E. Williams