A New Arena

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A person’s self-image is the mental picture a person carries around with them of themselves. I am a Christian, and as a Christian, I can attest that although I have an identity as being a child of God in Christ, I still carry around with me an image of who I am. This image includes me in certain social circles, and, through the exercise of comparing and contrasting, it excludes me out of others. And as childish as this self-image is, I see it springing up now and again, especially through the process of dating.

Now, my self-image is obviously not universal. And, the way I hang on to my self-image is probably not the same way another individual hangs on to theirs . However, it seems almost inescapable in this new arena. And, under Jesus’s statement, “Do not be unequally yoked,” my pool of individuals to choose from in this dating field has alarmingly shrunk. I ask myself this question, “Does a man exist in this wading pool that could be right for me?”  

However, being a Christian, I have to remember that, “With God all things are possible,” and that if I seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, “everything else will given” to me. That means letting go of all my wants and desires, following Him, and trusting that He’ll provide. I am His child, and, He will give me everything I need.

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34

Trusting God

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God is the Author and Creator of the Universe according to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  The earth was already created on the first “day,” it was just “empty” and without “form” (Gen 1:2).  I assume then, from what I gather from the Bible, that God had already fashioned the universe.  He just waited to finish the Earth last.

I can not speak for everyone, but, when I think about science and then read my Bible, I tend to keep both subjects separate in my mind.  However, you can not help but be in awe of the universe when you study astronomy.

Psalms 19 says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun” (Psalms 19: 1-4).

Romans 1 explains to us that we have no excuse for not knowing God. 

since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to themFor since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

God created us and created the universe, and so, when He says that what may be known about Him has been made clear through the things He created, I believe Him.

Nebula
Nebula

 

 

This is a nebula taken by the Hubble Telescope in 2009.  A nebula is just a cloud of dust, matter, and gas that attracts other clumps of dust, matter, and gas, and, it has the potential to form planets and stars after 100,000 years. They are beautiful enough to be worshipped themselves, but, they were created and designed by God to point to Him and His eternal power and divine nature.

 

 

 

"Pillars of Creation"

The Eagle Nebula - "Pillars of Creation"

 

Another one of my favorite nebulas is the Eagle Nebula.  It is 6500 light years away. ( A light year is equal to 6 trillion miles, or the amount of miles light can travel in a year.  That means that the Eagle Nebula is 390,000,000,000,000,000 miles away from Earth. )  This picture to the right displays its star forming pillars of gas and dust that spans for 7 light years.  They are basically incubators for new stars. I think this process of “star making” is amazing and so beautifully well done.  Sadly, since this Nebula is so far away, its possible that it doesn’t exist in this form anymore.  There is evidence that it was destroyed by a supernova 6,000 years ago and that we won’t see it in its current condition for another millennium.

 

 

 

Sombrero Galaxy

Sombrero Galaxy

 

This one of my favorite galaxies. It is called the Sombrero Galaxy.  It is located 28 million light years away from Earth, is 50 light years across, and contains 400 billion stars. Scientists also speculate that within the center of this galaxy is a supermassive black hole that is 1 billion times the mass of the sun.

 

 

 A few other facts you should know about our universe: our galaxy has 200 to 400 billion stars in it.  There are also approximately 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the known universe.  And, if you were to compare the Sun to the Earth, it would be about the same as comparing a grain of sand to a giant beach ball.

These facts declare the “glory of God” (Psalm 91: 1).

So, if He is big enough and wise enough to create all of the known and unknown universe, why can’t we trust Him???

Continuing in Christ

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Jesus, Yahweh, the Anointed King, the Sinless Lamb of God.  He’s not here on earth anymore; he is sitting in the heavenly places, and, if we are His children, we are sitting with Him. In 1 John 2:28, Scripture commands us to “continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”  Previously stated in this chapter of the Bible are four different ways to “continue in him” so that we will be confident at his appearing.

The first way to continue in the Lord according to 1 John 2 is to obey his commands.  1 John 2:4 calls every man a liar who says they know the Lord but does not obey his commands.  What are his commands? Jesus gives the two most important commands in Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus said that all the Law and all the prophets hang on these two commands (Matthew 22:40). 

A second way to continue in the Lord is outlined in 1 John 2:9-11. It is actually another command Jesus gave to us in John 15:12, which is to “love one another”.  The command to “love one another” I believe is referring to the loving of one another within the body of Christ.  1 John 2:9-11 calls loving your brother or sister in Christ as walking in the light.   This is obviously a second way in continuing in the Lord.

A third way to walk in the Lord is to obstain from falling in the love with the world.  The good book says that, “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15).  What comes from the world and not the Father is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  These are the three avenues in which we are tempted.  A good example in which these three avenues are used by Satan is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).  God told Adam and Eve they could eat from every tree in the garden exept for one in the middle of the garden.  The serpant asked Eve if this was true.  Eve said it was true, and that if she disobeyed God and ate from the tree, she would die.  But, of course, the serpant lied to Eve saying that she would certainly not die, but would be like God. So, Eve looked at the tree, saw that it was desireable (lust of the flesh), pleasant to the eye (lust of the eye), and saw that it would make her like God (pride of life) and then took a bite. She and her husband ate from the tree, and, both died.  Now sin is a part our lives and our culture, and, the only person that can cure this disease is Jesus Christ.

A forth manner in continuing in Christ is to not deny him before men.  In 1 John 2:4, the Bible calls any man a liar who says they know God but fails to follow his commands.  Now in 1 John 2:22, Scripture calls any man a liar who denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Jesus also said that He would deny before the Father any man who denied Him before the world (Matthew 10:33).

So, these are the four ways that we can continue strong and not be ashamed at the returning of the Lord.  They are obeying his commands, loving one anothr, abstaining from falling in love with the world, and proclaiming Christ, or not denying Him, before men.

Freedom in Christ

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First of all, I started writing this blog with the idea of wanting to really embrace the idea of being “free.”  What does the idea of being free mean to you? For some people it can mean freedom from circumstances, responsibilities, commitments, and even physical conditions.  I sometimes imagine freedom as not knowing right from wrong; and, therefore, not having to be hindered with decision-making.  I also imagine freedom sometimes as dancing, traveling, and even flying.  My guess is that we all live with different imaginations of what being “free” means and of what is holding us back.

Today, I am going to be looking at spiritual freedom.  If you look to the Bible, you will see that Scripture paints a picture of reality that goes a little deeper than what we see with our naked eye.  It shows us who God is, what God has done for man, and how to enter into a relationship with Him.  It shows us what the matter with man is, and what God has done as a means to set us free.

To look at spiritual freedom from my worldview, or the Christian worldview, I would suggest looking at what holds us back – sin. People often wonder why the world is the way it is.  Why is the world so bad if God is truly a loving God?  Why does evil exist? Why do thousands of people die in massive earthquakes and tsunamis while others thrive in blankets of peace and security?  Well, for starters, God didn’t create a world devastated by sin.  The world He created was “good” (Genesis 1:4; 19; 12; 18; 21; 25; 31).1 The Hebrew word for good is towb, which means pleasant to the senses, excellent, ethical, and so on.  All in all, before Eve decided to disobey, or sin, against God (Genesis 3:6), the world was “good.”  That means the dividing line between what God considered a “good” world and the world as we know it today is Adam and Eve’s decision to sin.  And, that is what disrupts us from having a truly good world, our decision to sin.

It may seem unfair, like when your reputation is muddied because of a relative’s lack of ethical character, but, because of what Adam and Eve did, we suffer.  But, God is a compassionate God.  He served the serpent and humanity not only judgment after we breached our relationship with our Creator, but also a promise.

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall [a]bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”  (Genesis 3:15)

This is the first messianic prophecy mentioned in Scripture.  God is talking to Eve and the serpent here, “you” being Satan, represented by the serpent, and “the woman” being Eve.    Enmity is “ill will” or “mutual hatred.” I don’t quite understand the enmity Scripture is talking about between Satan and the woman.  I’ve heard it said that it could refer to woman’s natural aversion to snakes and Satan’s obvious hatred for mankind.2   I’ve also heard that God put enmity between Satan and the woman, interpreted here as mankind, to keep humans from completely throwing the towel in and following Satan in a massive war against their Creator.3 If I had to go with either one of these interpretations, I would probably lean closer towards the God putting enmity between Satan and us interpretation.

 The second part of this verse holds the Messianic prophecy,

“And I will put enmity…

Between your seed and her seed

He shall bruise you on the head,

 And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

The male pronoun “He” in this verse is referring to Jesus.  According to Ray Stedman’s commentaries, this is the only time in the Bible that Scripture refers to someone through their matriarchal line.4  It’s usually through the father’s.  Jesus didn’t have an earthly father, and, therefore, is the best candidate for this scriptural reference. Other verses in the Bible that refer to the virgin birth are Isaiah 7:14, Mathew 1:18, Mathew 1:22, Luke 1:35, and Galatians 4:4.  Galatians actually refers to Jesus as being “born of a woman.”  I will cover the lineage of Jesus and try to unravel Jesus as the heir of the throne of David in a later blog.

Anyway, after God provided us an answer to his promise in Genesis 3:5 and Jesus was born, humanity finally had the option of salvation through faith according to Romans 10:9.  And, as humans move past that prolific day in History, we can at last “cut our karma” and “start fresh” as Melody Green puts it.

Once we are saved, we are dead to sin (Romans 6:6), and are free to live a Christian life.

This is the best rendition of spiritual freedom that I can do in one blog.  I will most likely explore the different topics I touched down on in further blogs.

Resources:

1. Driscoll, M.(2008).“What is Sin?” Retrieved from http://youtu.be/q8CJqY0tzcQ

2. Guzik, D. “Study Guide for Genesis 3.” Enduring Word. Blue Letter Bible. 7 Jul 2006.2011. 6 Aug 2011.
<http:// www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?
AuthorID=2&contentID=7323&commInfo=31&topic=Genesis&
ar=Gen_3_1 >

3. White, E.(1888).The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan:The Conflict of the Ages in the Christen Dispensation. Retrieved from http://www.whiteestate.org/books/gc/gc30.html

4. Stedman, R.(1967).“The Devil’s Burden.” Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/comm_topic.cfm?AuthorID=9&commInfo=65&groupID=4&commTopic=A Series on Genesis (1967-68)&SeriesOrder=18

Aside

I found in my research of scripture that giving thanks to God and praising him are virtually the same things. The only difference that I found between thanking and praising God was in Chapter 4 of Brian Kingslake’s book Out of This World! Lay-Bys on the Road to Heaven.1  He basically states that when you thank God, its for something he has already done.  But, when praising God, it presupposes nothing except the worthiness of the object being praised, which in this case, is God.  Based on this difference, his conclusion is that praise is a higher form of worship than thanksgiving.   Kingslake (1978) then goes on to paint an accurate and glorifying picture of who God is and why we should praise him stating, “He is infinite Love, Wisdom and Power, beyond all finite limitations. He is the primal Mover and Source of the whole created universe.” Amen to that!

In Scripture, God commands us to “always be thankful” (Colossians 3:15, Ephesians 5:20) for “all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Scripture also commands us “to be thankful” rather than partaking in obscene language, foolish talk, or crude jokes (Ephesians 5:4) as a way to stand out as children of light rather than being children of darkness.

If you have trouble praising God or finding things to be thankful for, you can always turn to David in the book of Psalms for inspiration.  He had found favor with God, while King Saul, the ruler of Isreal that preceded David, had been disobedient and was rejected by God.  David’s popularity and favor increased while Saul’s decreased.  David was humble and displayed an almost continual countenance of godly character while Saul sought to take David’s life.  However, David refused to kill Saul, “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:5; 1 Samuel 26:9), even though he had two opportunites to do so.  David had a very trying life, thanks to Saul, but relied on God to get him through his trials.  David recorded his lamentations and thanksgivings to God in the Psalms.

You exalted me above my foes;

   from a violent man you rescued me.

 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;

   I will sing the praises of your name” (Psalm 18: 48-49).

It is also recorded in 2 Samuel 1 that David sung a mournful elegy at the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death.2

 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life,

And in their death they were not parted;

They were swifter than eagles,

They were stronger than lions” (2 Samuel 1:23).

This song demonstrates the godly character of David, because, he was able to mourn over his enemies.  This is something, I’m sure, Jesus would have admired (Matthew 5:44). In his elegy you can also hear David’s anguish over his lifelong friend Jonathan, whom he considered a brother. 

 “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

You have been very pleasant to me.

Your love to me was more wonderful

Than the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:26).

Scripture plainly depicts the closeness of their relationship in 1 Samuel 18:1, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.”  This had me wondering, if the “knitting” of a soul is a possiblity and a God ordained activity, what people in my life have I been “knitted together” to?

David wasn’t the only individual in the Bible that sung songs and elegies to God as means of praising or communing with Him.3  It is common throughout the Bible.  Moses and the children of Israel sang songs of deliverance to God after He had rescued them out the bonds of slavery in Egypt .  They sang, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea” (Exodus 15:1).  Hannah also praised God when she realized that God had finally granted her a child.  She sang, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the LORD” (2 Samuel 2:1). 

All in all, God wants us to be thankful for He is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) and never tempts us (James 1:13).  He also gave his only Son so that we could have eternal life (John 3:16),and, He has given us His Spirit to help us in our weaknesses (John 6:7; Romans 8:26).

I am thankful I am a believer, and, if whomever is reading this blog would like to become a believer too, all you have to do is pray a prayer like this:

“Dear Jesus, thank you for creating me and for giving me this opportunity to be born again.  I believe you died on a cross for me, and, I believe you rose again on the third day.  Jesus, you are Lord, and, now be Lord of my life, in Jesus name I pray, Amen” (Romans 10:8-10).

If you prayed that prayer, you are a born again Believer with the Holy Spirit living inside of you.  That’s something to be thankful for!!

Feel free to send me a message on this blog, or, if you’d rather, contact your local Bible beleiving church and tell them about your decision to follow Christ.

Be blessed!! 🙂

Resources:

1. Kingslake, B.(1978). Out of This World! Lay Bys on The Road to Heaven. Retrieved from http://www.swedenborgdigitallibrary.org/ootw/ootw4.htm

2. Bratcher, D.(2010). “Introducing the Psalms.” Retrieved from http://www.crivoice.org/psalmsintro.html

3. Bratcher, D.(2010). “Introducing the Psalms.” Retrieved from http://www.crivoice.org/psalmsintro.html

Giving Thanks and Communing with God

Taking a step in the right direction.

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Hi!  My name is Lana Smith, and, let me explain how this beautiful blog is going to be unraveling.

First of all, let me tell you that I am a Christian, that is, I hold a Christian world view.  I only tell you this because part of what I plan to write about will be my thoughts on Scripture.  My “super blog” will be done once a week and be submitted every Friday.  The other submissions I will make throughout the week will be simply what ever I think both my audience and I will enjoy.  As Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”

 I will be adding links to each blog that will help support, explain, or just add body to each blog.  They will be there for your research and interest.  And, as my faith is strong enough to accept the contents of the Bible, I understand that not everyone is a beleiver.  So, I will include links that support the Bible’s authenticity on the side of each blog. As an old quote goes, “Those who have faith need no explanation, for those who have no faith no explanation is possible.” I will also provide a Prayer of Salvation on the top of every page in case God’s Spirit has you so inclined as to give your life over to Christ.

Now, let me state WHY I am writing this blog. My dream is to write. I can only speak for myself when I say that writing is a means of developing who I am.  It’s an intellectual exercise. I will dissect, slice, and harvest every idea that presents itself to me.  And, I hope, in doing so, my gift will be both a joy and a source of encouragement to whomever reads this blog.

I also want to add that I love to make friends.  So feel free to leave comments or just a thumbs up.

God’s Blessings!!!!!

Lana A. Smith