WHAT ABOUT WINE?

Wine in Scripture is referenced so often that it is good we take a moment to study its importance. Wine was always treated with a degree of sanctity and was never to be abused. In fact if you were the head of the church you were to not drink it or drink it in excess (1 Timothy 3:3). John the Baptist who set the stage for Christ’s coming took no wine nor did he cut his hair (Luke 1:15) among other things.

For others wine served many purposes. It was used for medicinal purposes (Luke 10:34) as a disinfectant. It was also used as a drug such as offered to Christ before His crucifixion (Mark 15:33) . When mixed with frankincense it would deaden the senses much like what some states who still carry out death sentences call a ‘3 cocktail’ system to end life.

On a positive side wine (which was often heavily diluted with water) was drunk with meals, at special festivals or simply to soften the feeling of pain or grief. Scripture is replete with numerous references in these areas. The Jews would offer a special blessing (brakhah) before consuming such as Christ showed us when first instituting the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:27-29).

Finally, it should be noted that grapes and wine were a metaphor for our  judgment one day. In Revelations 14:14-20 we see how the harvest applies to judgment and how the act of pressing out the juice is like removing the life blood of people. Indeed the story of wine in Scripture has much to tell us. This is only a partial answer to the question WHAT ABOUT WINE?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Wine is welcome when used wisely.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Isaiah 55:1 “Wine is figurative of the Gospel”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your many blessings.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  What are the uses of wine?
  2.  What evil effects can come from wine?
  3.  Who used wine in Scripture and in what circumstances?
  4.  Wine or grape juice and why?

TO BE TRULY WISE

Wisdom which is knowledge guided by understanding is something to be sought. Yet it also has its limitations for often people use it to bring glory upon themselves (Jeremiah 9:23) or apply it to matters of this world which is foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19). In otherwords wisdom without God is nothing (Jeremiah 8:9).

So what then is wisdom? First of all it is discernment such as Moses displayed when a part of the Pharaohs inner circle and later leading the people out of bondage (Genesis 41:33). It is able to look at the entire situation and divide it into manageable pieces always keeping God and His plan as the primary focus.

Wisdom can be mechanical or technical skill but for the most part it is plain old ‘common sense’. Common sense that is acquired over the ages and often relayed by the old to the young. Where this is most evident is when a devout Christian shares their experiences with Christians who are new to their faith. I have often wondered why churches don’t pair their elder parishioners with younger members to offer them guidance. It would seem if done carefully this would make for a much stronger church.

Wisdom will get you through this life and make the journey much smoother and much more enjoyable. As long as one remembers the source of wisdom and to whom all efforts should be directed. That is what it means TO BE TRULY WISE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Wisdom when witnessing to the will of God is well used.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 8:9 “wisdom is nothing without God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord give me wisdom such as You would want me to have.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  In what way is wordly wisdom of no value?
  2.  In what ways was Moses discerning?
  3.  What is Christian common sense?
  4.  How could a church use the wisdom of its elders more effectively?

 

A LESSON FROM GOD

In my ongoing quest to learn and appreciate more the elements of God’s creation, today I want to visit about wind. Air movement or wind is an almost every day occurrence when you live on the plains. Perhaps that is why wind energy and towers are in our news so often.

What is not discussed is God’s relation to wind beginning with the fact that He created it (Amos 4:13) and sends it on its merry way (Psalm 147:18). The fact that God feels it is instrumental to our daily life makes me want to know more about it. To do this we have to understand where wind comes from. In Psalm 135:7 we are told wind comes out of the treasures God gives us. One of those treasures is not to far from my home and a popular tourist destination called Wind Cave. Exploring it you see the mastery of God’s handiwork.

God also can gather the wind together “in His fists” (Proverbs 30:4). We know the affects and knock out blow it gives when that is the case especially through tornadoes and hurricanes. In those and all other situations we must never forget that God is still in control (Psalm 107:25) and no matter its impact we are to use our experience with wind as a moment from which we can learn A LESSON FROM GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Wisdom can come from watching the wind work out the will of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Amos 4:13 “God created wind”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for all Your creation.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  What is the importance of wind?
  2.  How is wind measured?
  3.  Where does wind come from?
  4.  What messages does God send with destructive wind?

GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN

 

Jesus was a plain speaking person and on one occasion in doing so he upset his disciples. He had brought their training along gradually with lesser miracles and then healings and raising individuals from death but now it was time to let them know that soon they would be on their own on this earth. In Matthew 16:21-24 he shares the events that were soon to take place. There would be the entry into Jerusalem, His rejection by the church leaders and people followed by their condemnation and then the government putting him to death and God resurrecting Him. Peter despite his good intentions could not see this happening and called Christ out for His words. Here is where this life event of Christ gets interesting.

Peter’s actions and words were not submissive to God’s plan and Christ resented it saying it was as if satan were speaking the words from his mouth. Today we also as disciples of Christ in this world and our  lifetime need to be brought along slowly. As if nurturing a child we need to first become familiar with Christ and then fully submit to the plan of God which is that we and others who repent and are baptized will see the glory of Heaven. For us to challenge God and His Word makes us no different than Peter drawing the anger of Christ.

Peter did not want to see Christ suffer yet that is part and parcel of being a Christian. It is satan who does not want us to suffer for our Lord and Savior for suffering helps us to identify with Him. I believe you can’t gain the crown without the cross and so there is no resurrection without our death to this life. Today it is important that we dwell not on the things of this world with its pomp and pageantry that favors our human nature but rather we are to measure our lives by divine not human standards. When doing so we loudly proclaim each time GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Carrying the cross for Christ is crucial for a Christian.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 16:21-24 “What Christ resents in humankind who follow Him”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always follow the plan You  have laid out for my life.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Have you ever challenged the message of Christ?
  2.  How far along in the nurturing process as a disciple of Christ are you?
  3.  How did Peter show that good intentions do not justify wrongful action?
  4.  What crosses are you bearing for Jesus?

THE ROLE OF THE WIFE

Two institutions on earth that are to personify God and His relationship with us are found in the Christian congregation and the institution of marriage. All that is good and pure are to be contained therein. Yesterday I spoke about the husband in marriage and today we look at the wife’s relationships with her husband. It is important to note here again that God’s Word does not affirm this same relationship between two men or two women no matter what a ‘politically correct’ society or ‘constitutional guarantee’ a human court may decide.

The relationship between a husband and wife from the time before Christ was to be exclusive. Solomon in all his wisdom used very vivid language in speaking  of this mutual faithfulness in Proverbs 5:15-20. In this exclusive relationship their is to be not only emotional and spiritual satisfaction but fulfillment of a physical relationship as well. Marriage is blessed when this complete relationship is in place and through marriage we can then better understand what it is to be in a complete relationship with our Lord and Savior.

As stated before this relationship is to be mutually exclusive. Again between one man and one woman as we see recorded in the words of Paul found in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. Paul here speaks of celibacy during prayer and fasting. It should be noted there is no provision for celibacy at all  times as it leads to a great many problems. Only those times when devotion to the Lord is in place is it acceptable in a marriage.

Finally, it should be noted the Bible encourages sexual fulfillment but it is to be an undefiled relationship (Hebrews 13:4). The Bible does not condone promiscuity which we sadly see 24/7 on television and in the news. It is today more difficult yet evermore necessary we understand THE ROLE OF THE WIFE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Wives should welcome husbands according to the will of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 “wife relationship to husband is to be mutually agreeable”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord speak to the hearts of Christian women and men to give them understanding.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  How do you understand the role of a wife?
  2.  What does it mean to be in a complete relationship with our Lord and Savior?
  3.  What does it mean to be in a complete relationship with your husband or wife?
  4.  How can we protect Christian homes from a society without a moral foundation?

THE ROLE OF A HUSBAND

The more I look into Scripture the less politically correct I find myself to be. Not only that but this world grows more distant as I understand God’s plan for our eternal home. I say this because of how this world looks at marriage (among many other matters) and the role of the husband and wife.

Today we will look at the duties of a husband toward his wife. Duties that many men have in one way or another given up performing.

First and foremost is the husband is to love his wife with the same intimacy as Christ loves His church (Ephesians 5:28). Christ gave His all for the church and so should a husband for his wife. Sadly, oftentimes that is not how men and women understand the marital relationship.

A husband is also to honor his wife (1 Peter 3:7) uplifting her before others. To speak well of her when others may speak ill of their wives and mothers of their children. An honorable and loving marriage is a marriage made in Heaven.

Traditionally a man is also the provider for his wife and children if any. In today’s society that role is often minimized or turned around with the end result sacrifices being made by children and even the marriage itself not being fully functional as God intended.

One role of the husband I will always believe is uppermost in a marriage is to be the spiritual head and advisor. Sadly this is where most husbands and fathers fail and we see the effect of it across the entire spectrum of our society. As the world grows ever more secular and self-centered husbands, save for those coming from Christian homes, have been visibly absent in the role God intended for them. All this and more is THE ROLE OF A HUSBAND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A wise husband will live in marriage the way God intended.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Ephesians 5:25 “husbands love your wives”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to be the husband or wife you desire of me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How does Christ’s love for the church compare to a husband’s love for His wife?
  2. Why is the role of mother and wife no longer honored as a vocation such as it once was?
  3. How have other institutions taken over the role of motherhood?
  4. How have husbands given up their spiritual responsibilities in a marriage or family setting?

THE MESSAGE OF THE WHIRLWIND

Many of us have perhaps seen small whirlwinds that spring up at a moments notice running across a field or yard. They are a small version of a much larger and more dangerous tornado that some seem to enjoy chasing. Few perhaps know that Elijah’s translation (change from earthly form to eternal) was done by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1). Somewhat reminiscent of Dorothy’s experience in the movie ‘Wizard of Oz’ but in the case of Elijah an actual event.

The use of these winds or great storms are Biblical. The prophet Isaiah speaks of how God will use them in rebuilding nations (Isaiah 17:13) and as we know from the experience of tornadoes and hurricanes they bring sudden destruction (Proverbs 1:27).

As long as their is evil in the world (until Christ’s return) their will be whirlwinds of one sort or another. They are a method by which God shows His anger (Jeremiah 23:19) and His might (Nahum 1:3). All of creation, including its various weather patterns, is of and from God able to be used in furthering His righteousness and the sanctification of His people. Great storms, I believe, are meant to help us better understand this. That is THE MESSAGE OF THE WHIRLWIND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Whirlwinds are often God’s way of warning the wicked.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Isaiah 17:13 “whirlwinds show God’s fury”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord protect me from Your fury.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What fascinates people about whirlwinds, tornadoes and hurricanes?

2. Have you experienced any form of a whirlwind?

3. How can a whirlwind correct evil behavior?

4. Why do seemingly good people also experience destruction by whirlwinds?

THE WILL OF GOD

Going through life it is important we understand God’s frame of mind or intention as our Creator and the principle answer is our salvation (2 Peter 3:9). As Christ shared in John 6:40 that all believing in Jesus Christ have eternal life. As harsh as some may say it sounds salvation does not come from belief in allah, budha or any number of other gods (small g). Free will lets you believe in who you wish but my experience with God’s Word (the Bible) does not allow me to deviate from its contents nor does it allow me to hate the person who believes otherwise.

God’s will also is that we give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Even in difficulties or hardships there is that proverbial ‘silver lining’. In fact when we communicate with God the first thought should be on thankfulness and not on some request that meets a need for that moment.

Finally the will of God is for our sanctification. That we grow in holiness according to His Word. It is pleasant and easy to imagine an eternity with others who are of the same spirit.

Some may wonder if we can know the mind of God. We see in Romans 2:18 that it is revealed especially when we see His wrath against that which is ungodly. God as sovereign over nations and individuals (Daniel 4:35) is seen, I believe, daily. We may choose to not understand it but God’s authority over this world is clear. Today we need to be prepared to fulfill THE WILL OF GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: It would be wise for the ways of man to fulfill the will of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Peter 3:9 “the will of God is our salvation”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to fulfill Your will for me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Is your life fulfilling the will of God?
  2.  How do we find union with God’s omniscience?
  3.  Why do some say their is no difference between the God of the Bible and other gods?
  4.  How is the God of the Bible different from other gods?

 

A LIVING SACRIFICE TO GOD

Wheat has always fascinated me. The reason is its ties to Scripture and also my German from Russia cultural background. Numerous articles and artifacts exist showing the story of Hard Red Winter Wheat brought here by my ancestors and its effect on American culture, food and so much more.

Spiritually this life giving cereal was first grown in Egypt as shown in Exodus 9:32 and later incorporated into the spiritual life of Israel. In that regard it is good for us to understand how it has been spoken of in Scripture.

It is important here to note that a companion plant called zonin looks like wheat in its early stages but ultimately ends up being exposed as a weed. That is the message for Christians in Matthew 13:25. Like wheat we will likely go through a process of sifting (trials and temptations) in which the weed seeds and the chaff will be cast aside and eventually destroyed. Christ Himself referenced this in Luke 22:31. Wheat planted as a naked kernel grows in righteousness to be harvested by the great reaper Christ Jesus.

Christ references His death (John 12:24) as like unto that grain of wheat. Unless it is first planted into the ground as one day we will be upon our deaths, we will not be able to experience Resurrection save for the rapture upon Christ’s return or sooner depending on your viewpoint. That being said Wheat was the primary grain offered at the temple in worship to God. So should it be that we now offer our own lives as LIVING SACRIFICES TO GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Waiting on the Lord enriches our life like a grain of wheat.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 3:12 “”Wheat is figurative of being a Christian”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to be tested and found not wanting.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice to God?

2. How are Christians symbolic of wheat?

3. What is zonin?

4. What is the history of wheat especially in its transition coming into the United States?

THE TRUTH ABOUT WAR

Armed conflict between nations (war) will be ever present in this world. That is not to say we should not strive for peace but as long as their are some who do not receive the peace of Jesus it is impossible.

War is caused by sin which begins with conflict within each of us (James 4:1). Human nature is sinful and so natural progression would lead one to conclude that flawed leaders especially from non-God fearing governments would test others often leading to major conflicts.

War when all is said and done is really against the rulers and spiritual forces of evil. Unseen agents of the primary adversary satan and his minions who attack each of us just as he did Christ (Matthew 4:1). Forces that can be fought off only by the spiritual weapons listed in Ephesians 6:13. In fact until mankind understands the Jewish concept of Shalom (God’s peace within us) there will be hostilities. For peace within us through God’s presence is where peace begins. Indeed peace is not just the absence of war but living in holiness guided by God at our center.

This peace we can find for ourselves today. Peace in the world is another matter. That will arrive with Christ’s return and the subsequent downfall of satan. That is THE TRUTH ABOUT WAR.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: War is often waged first and foremost within the heart of mankind.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: James 4:1 “war comes from sin within”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord we seek Your peace.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. How do armed conflicts, past and present, reflect the absence of the God of the Bible within individuals?

2. What in human nature leads to greater conflicts?

3. Explain Shalom?

4. Is God your center?