Posted in encouragement, theology

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace

By Elizabeth Prata

The other evening I was standing at the edge of the hayfield, and the blue cornflowers gave a wonderful tinge that mirrored the sky, and the burnt sienna hay tips rustled in the breeze, showing where the wind had been. The birds swooped over the field looking for insects and I thought, how peaceful, how peaceful. This is my life, and it is wonderful.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16) Continue reading “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace”

Posted in books, theology

Top 5 books I’d recommend (plus 5 more)

By Elizabeth Prata

quotes books

Yesterday a friend who is doing a project asked me to list top five books I would recommend every Christian to read. I asked, ‘modern or older’ and he said maybe make two lists, one for each. That’s great because I had a hard time excising my 6th book from the top 5 already, lol.

I spent some time pondering and then compiling, while browsing my own bookshelves to see what lifted my heart and mind as I scanned my titles. Continue reading “Top 5 books I’d recommend (plus 5 more)”

Posted in theology

It’s the 1960s all over again. I hated the ’60s

By Elizabeth Prata

On Twitter, an account named @backcreekpastor posted this:
“This sojourn into “online worship” has made me exceedingly glad we will not experience a disembodied eternity.”

Amen to that! A heartening reminder. We will experience the heavenly eternity on a physical world, bodily. All our experiences, emotions, spiritual feelings will be washed through a sinless, glorified BODY. We won’t be floating around on clouds, but instead be fully conscious, sentient, in a body, and worshiping and working (“ruling and reigning”) with Christ, who by the way is also in His body and will be present with us on our home, the New Earth. Continue reading “It’s the 1960s all over again. I hated the ’60s”

Posted in theology

Living the Ecclesiastes life

By Elizabeth Prata

ecclesiastes

By the 1990’s I wasn’t tempted by the American Dream anymore. My 90s decade, one in which I was thirty to forty years old were a reaction to the 1980s and 70s and 60s. See, I grew up being taught the American Dream, American exceptionalism, and nationalism. That I could attain anything I wanted, it was there for the taking because we lived in the best country and we were the best people. Continue reading “Living the Ecclesiastes life”

Posted in summer reading, theology

Why you should read Pilgrim’s Progress, and Summer Book-A-Palooza sites

By Elizabeth Prata

I love the book The Pilgrim’s Progress. I have a hard time with allegory and symbolism, being so literal, but I love the book and many of its scenes stick with me in my mind. If you’ve been wanting to read the book but are unsure of which edition to choose, or are intimidated like I was for so long, here are some helps and guides to spur you in reading this marvelous book. Spurgeon read it over 100 times! That’s something, right?!

At the bottom I offer a list of fiction Christian books, too. Continue reading “Why you should read Pilgrim’s Progress, and Summer Book-A-Palooza sites”

Posted in discernment, theology

Why General Revelation isn’t enough to get you into heaven

By Elizabeth Prata

pineapple top

I was saved from God’s wrath because God in His uninfluenced will decided before the foundation of the world that He would create me and then save me in His perfect timing. Salvation comes through the work of Jesus on the cross, to die for our (my) sin as having lived as the spotless holy Lamb, which God requires of every person, but which we cannot do, except for Christ. Once resurrected, Jesus became the Door through which all of God’s elect arrive in heaven’s glory. (Ephesians 1:1-5, Romans 3:23, Hebrews 10:14, John 10:7). Continue reading “Why General Revelation isn’t enough to get you into heaven”

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, goose, john huss, martin luther, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: John Huss, “The goose is cooked”

By Elizabeth Prata*

John Huss was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. The following below is excerpted from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. John Huss was killed by the Roman Catholic Church for the ‘heresy’ of proclaiming that Christ is the Head of the church and that salvation is in Christ alone. The martyrs died proclaiming Jesus is the head of the church and so many foolish people today have wantonly substituted idols for Him instead. Continue reading “Sunday Martyr Moment: John Huss, “The goose is cooked””

Posted in go in and com out, I am the door, threshing floor, winepress

Jesus is the Door: They will go in and come out

By Elizabeth Prata*

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says:

Many who hear the word of Christ, do not understand it, because they will not. But we shall find one scripture expounding another, and the blessed Spirit making known the blessed Jesus. Christ is the Door. And what greater security has the church of God than that the Lord Jesus is between it and all its enemies? He is a door open for passage and communication. Here are plain directions how to come into the fold; we must come in by Jesus Christ as the Door. By faith in him as the great Mediator between God and man.

What does ‘go in and come out’ mean? Is it that we will go in and come out of salvation? Not so! Our salvation is eternally secure.
Continue reading “Jesus is the Door: They will go in and come out”

Posted in theology

“It was as if joy was making them speak”

By Elizabeth Prata*

I read an interesting list of points an author made about John Bunyan’s conversion. John Bunyan was the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, a book many say is the greatest book ever written, apart from the Bible. It is without doubt a literary masterpiece. It has stood the test of time since its publication in 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature in history. And the man who wrote it was raised as an atheist.

In Geoff Thomas’ essay titled “John Bunyan,” Mr Thomas wrote,

“John Bunyan had no family influences encouraging him to become a Christian. … In June 1644 when he was 16 his mother passed away and four weeks later his sister died. Eight weeks after his mother’s death his father remarried and in 8 months his wife gave birth to a boy whom his Royalist father named ‘Charles’. Four months earlier John had left home and had joined the Parliamentary Army fighting against King Charles. There was little affection between son and father. How then did John Bunyan become a Christian? There were ten factors which all played their part, great and small:”

One of these factors caught my attention-

Bunyan was stirred by the godly conversation of Christians.
He would work in Bedford and eat his bread with some Christian women who tailored their conversation for his ears. They talked of their own sin, the new birth, and the love of Christ. Bunyan listened intently and later wrote, ‘They spoke as if joy was making them speak. They were to me as if they had found a new world,’ and he often sought them out and sat with them.

‘they tailored their conversation for his ears.’ How important it is, to speak of Jesus in truth for known hearers and unknown hearers! The women must have seen the Spirit working in Bunyan, and they made a choice to and selflessly not speak of the carnal or mundane or the personal, but of the joy of His grace!

They were living this  verse:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6)

Gill’s Exposition says,

“let grace be the subject matter of your speech and conversation. When saints meet together they should converse with each other about the work of grace upon their souls, how it was begun, and how it has been carried on, and in what case it now is; they should talk of the great things and wonders of grace, which God has done for them, which would be both comfortable and edifying to them, and make for the glory of the grace of God”

Whether we are preachers exhorting in church, parents teaching our children, or two simple Puritan Christian ladies serving lunch to an obviously tortured soul, we have the privilege and the responsibility to speak ‘as if joy was making us speak.’

What glory it brings the Lord when we intentionally speak of the riches of His grace. Hearers known and unknown to us, Christian and perishing, listen to us and our Spirit-carried words,

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:16)

For John Bunyan, the ladies’ words were the aroma of life to life (‘he often sought them out and sat with them‘). Therefore season your conversation with love, joy, and salt, and watch with admiration and joy where He carries your words. For we all have a pulpit.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)

*This essay first appeared on The End Time in June 2014

Posted in christian life, eli, holy, prophet, samuel

Samuel’s retirement as Judge of Israel and the lessons for us today

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621–1674)
Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli

By Elizabeth Prata*

Samuel had been a faithful man of God since his mother Hannah had presented him to Eli in the temple when Samuel was three years old. You might remember Hannah’s prayer. The LORD had closed her womb, and desperately Hannah wanted a child. She prayed in the temple, promising to deliver a child that the LORD gives her, back to Him for His glorious service. The LORD was pleased with this. He opened Hannah’s womb, and the child born was Samuel.

Samuel served for many years as Priest, Prophet and Judge.

The day came when Samuel was going to retire as their Judge. The People had clamored for a King instead, and God acceded to this. So Samuel gathered the People, and spoke to them in farewell.

And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.” (1 Samuel 12:1-5)

I find this profoundly beautiful.

When the LORD called little Samuel into service, you’ll remember the scene. Sadly, old Priest Eli was dim of eyesight, and as we’ll see, dim of hearing also. The visions to Israel were rare in those days. The LORD called to Samuel.

Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. (1 Samuel 3:4-5)

Three times the LORD called and three times Samuel answered “Hear I am!” It took three times for Eli to figure out that it was God who was calling Samuel. Samuel opened his service to the LORD with those powerful three words, ‘Here I am’. As a parallel, when the LORD called Isaiah, Isaiah also responded with, “Here I am!” (Isaiah 6:8).

Samuel ended his service as their Judge with the same phrase he began service, “Here I am.” We know that when we are before the people of the Lord, we are before the Lord. (Acts 5:4, Acts 9:4).

Before Samuel spoke last words to prompt them to remember the LORD and all He had done for them, Samuel did something first. He checked his relationship with the People. He asked them if there was any blight in his behavior to cause a stumbling, to cause an offense, to have come between them and him. He would make amends. The People answered, “No”. Samuel had not defrauded, had not oppressed, had not cheated, had not bribed.

Samuel went on with his message, bringing all the Lord had done to the Israelites’ mind. Samuel closed with this-

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:24-25).

It is such a parallel to us today. Now, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant distinguishes us from the OT Israelites and the NT Christians. Further, there are not Priests, Kings, Judges, or Prophets of Israel anymore. However, the principles are the same. For example,

1. Samuel was a faithful servant of the LORD all his days. He was attuned to God’s will, he was diligent to follow His voice, and he was faithful to God’s people. Eli’s spiritual hearing had grown so dim, he failed to hear God calling to Samuel. Yet Samuel was attuned all his days. Are we attuned to the Lord? Are we available to perform service to Him? Do we diligently and actively comply when we do hear His voice (through the scriptures)?

2. Samuel lived a holy life before His people. We are called to do the same.

Source: Elegant Finishes by Gina

Living holy and blameless before the Lord means living holy and blameless lives before His people, too. I’d said a moment ago, ‘We know that when we are before the people of the Lord, we are before the Lord.’ (Acts 5:4, Acts 9:4). I’d used those two verses from Acts to show the truth of my axiom. When Ananias and Sapphira lied about the portion of money they had pledged to the church, they were not lying to Peter. They were lying to the Holy Spirit (who is IN Peter). When Saul was persecuting Christians, he was not just persecuting some people who happened to be living in the Middle East, he was persecuting the Spirit IN the people. That’s why Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

When we are before God’s people, we are before God.

3. Samuel’s call to charge him so he could make amends, before he got to the business of reminding them of what God had done, is similar to today’s New Testament charge to cleanse ourselves before we approach the Lord’s Table for communion. We are not only charged to cleanse ourselves before the Lord but to clear things with any of the brethren. If there are any outstanding sins, we must rectify them first.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 27-29)

It is a call to be reverent, holy, and mindful of all Who God is and what He has done. Attempting to be reverent about what Jesus has done for us though a filter of unconfessed sin or through the muck of grudges and bitterness against one in the Body, is not behaving in worthy manner. Samuel cleared the decks first. We must do the same.

Old Testament or New Testament, we are called to live holy lives.

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16, cf Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 19:2)

Samuel’s call to the people to charge him with any wrong he had performed so as to make amends was not only holy but humble. In that way, it was a beautiful moment. God, grant me the humility and ability to live a holy life as Samuel did and as You call us to do.

*This post first appeared on The End Time in August 2014