Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Kay Cude: The Light of Our Salvation

By Elizabeth Prata

Kay Cude is a Texas Poet. Used with permission.

Artist’s statement:

For me, the lone tree speaks of God’s wonderful handiwork, not only representing His gift of nature, but brings to mind that His redeemed are not alone, but safely tucked within His Might eternally. And as the brilliance of the sun pierces boldly through the dark-ending of the storm, one thought leads me to another — remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection. Then speaks to His beloved redeemed: the “things” of this world are now more clearly seen through the light of His Salvation! We must daily pause to remember…

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Posted in theology

When the Word of God isn’t Enough

By Elizabeth Prata

The scriptures say they are enough. To use a fancier word, the scriptures are sufficient.

All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2 Timothy 3:16)

That about covers all of life, doesn’t it? At least it does for the Christian. See Romans 15:4 also. Yet women believers in Christ are bombarded with testimonies from alleged ‘teachers’ of the Bible, and authors and speakers, who claim that the word is not enough. They want more.

But there is nothing more than the completely sufficient word of God. As Peter said in John 6:68, Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

Sarah Young is famous for starting her cottage industry of false devotionals and books for women and for children with the words “I yearned for more.”

Continue reading “When the Word of God isn’t Enough”
Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Kay Cude Poetry: The Light of Our Salvation

Artist’s statement:

For me, the lone tree speaks of God’s wonderful handiwork, not only representing His gift of nature, but brings to mind that His redeemed are not alone, but safely tucked within His Might eternally. And as the brilliance of the sun pierces boldly through the dark-ending of the storm, one thought leads me to another — remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection. Then speaks to His beloved redeemed: the “things” of this world are now more clearly seen through the light of His Salvation! We must daily pause to remember…

REMEMBRANCE
Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

I live a small life in obscurity. Can I really make a difference for God?

By Elizabeth  Prata

We see so many stories of people launching ministries, or selling everything to move into an inner-city, or striking off to a mission-receiving nation. They are doing Big Things for Jesus.

Sometimes I receive a comment where a Christian woman feels ineffective and insignificant for Jesus. She is either a stay-at-home mom, or works in a job in which she is not a decision-maker, a person droning away in a cubicle somewhere. She feels like she would like to make a bigger impact for His kingdom but is not in any kind of powerful position to do so. How can we make a Gospel-impact for Jesus where we are?

I’d first like to celebrate the fact that there are women who yearn and strive to obey her King and to make a difference in souls. Like David, there are many women who adhere to this verse from Psalm 119:59

I hastened and did not delay To keep Your commandments.

And yet, many wonder since their sphere is so small, how they can minister effectively? Are they making any difference at all? Could we do more?

By Genesis 39, Joseph has been sold into slavery by his duplicitous brothers. He is working in the house of Potiphar the Captain of the Guard, as a slave. He is a slave, remember. Bought with money as property to do a master’s bidding. Joseph had no say, no power, no sphere in which he wielded decision making capabilities. He was just chattel, slaving obscurely away in a palace of a captain of Egypt.

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. (Genesis 39:1)

The Hebrew word sar is sometimes rendered chief (Genesis 40:2)

The “captain of the guard” or “captain of the body-guard,” both titles meaning the same thing, was responsible for the security of the king’s prisoners and for executing their sentences upon them. He was also the official guardian of the person, or body, of the king—the chief of the king’s bodyguard. Source: Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible.

From that Commentary we know that Potiphar was no low person on the totem pole. When Joseph arrived at “Potiphar’s house”, it wasn’t a bungalow. Perhaps Potiphar did not even see Joseph much at the beginning, or if he did, it was in passing.

The Bible is silent on Joseph’s exact circumstances, but much has been written about slavery in many different eras, especially Roman times. In the Roman era, as many as 10,000 slaves per day were auctioned off. The Master or the Master’s representative would buy them off the block, usually in bunches. Initially, the Master would not know what each slave was capable of. Their skills were a mystery. They were just faceless laborers, an unknown quantity. At first, they would usually be put to menial work and as the Master or his representative got to know the slaves better he would re-distribute them around the property or give them tasks according to their strengths. This is what happened with Joseph.

The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. (Genesis 39:2-4)

Joseph slaved away, and yet the LORD was with him. He was apart from his family, alone…but the LORD was with him.

Matthew Henry says of this situation in his complete Commentary,
His master preferred him, by degrees made him steward of his household, v. 4. Note, (1.) Industry and honesty are the surest and safest way both of rising and thriving: Seest thou a man prudent, and faithful, and diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings at length, and not always before mean men. (2.) It is the wisdom of those that are in any sort of authority to countenance and employ those with whom it appears that the presence of God is, Ps. 101:6.  Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

And we know how the event ended. God used Joseph in a mighty way for His purposes. (Genesis 50:20).

If Joseph, a slave, persevered in Godly character enough to influence an entire household and then an entire nation, what can God do with us? Anything, no matter where we are or no matter how small our own sphere seems. Use your vocation for Godly influence, doing all as to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Even then, we don’t have to save an entire nation. The biggest things on the planet are influencing people with the Gospel, the true words of Christ. Even one soul impacted for the Kingdom is the highest work one can accomplish. In Zechariah 4:10 we read,

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth.”

What does that verse mean? John MacArthur comments,

In that case, the re-building of a temple smaller than the one smaller than Solomon’s may have been discouraging to some, (cf Ezra 3:12, Haggai 2:3), The Lord announced that His pleasure was upon this work, and that His omniscient care was watching over and taking pleasure in its completion. He said in effect, don’t despise what God is pleased with.”

If you’re a person with no influence, a small sphere, or seeming insignificance for the Kingdom, you’re not. Don’t despise the small things. It is the Lord’s work and He is pleased with it. To Him, it is big things, especially when He fills them to perfection on His Day of glorification when ALL things come to completion. Use your vocation for Him in any way, large or small, that you can. His eyes range through the whole earth, and He sees you, and loves you and is with you.

This light isn’t a mighty lighthouse guiding thousands to port safe from the storm, but its light sure means a lot to the one family trying to get home.

Posted in encouragement, theology

The word of God is living

By Elizabeth Prata

To the Christian, the word of God is like a green lawn, undulating, rolling out blade after blade of perfectly manicured grass, thriving and living, each blade a perfect truth to be discovered, examined, applied, praised.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).

Underline is mine, it’s what I’m focusing on in this essay. Continue reading “The word of God is living”

Posted in theology

God doesn’t leave you alone to figure it out

I follow Ayanna Mathis on Instagram. She puts together a good word of encouragement and exhortation. Here is another one by Ayanna.

By ayannazariya
GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS COME WITH HELP 

Have you ever felt like you’ve been given a task to do that you felt alone in? Maybe you can recall a time when given an assignment in school in which the instructions were very detailed, but you still felt like you lacked the support you needed? Or perhaps you were in a position in which you had to give instructions for a task, but the person on the receiving end of those instructions felt like they couldn’t ask for help or they just didn’t know how…

I want to encourage you to know that God is neither extreme. He doesn’t give instructions without help or help without instructions. His Word gives us parameters to work within, and His Spirit promises to never leave us and to always guide us as we journey through this life, fulfilling the instructions of God. They aren’t arbitrary. They aren’t so secret that they can only be known by certain people. God from the beginning of time has been making Himself known in ways unimaginable. And He also continues to do so today.

We live in a culture and time where Christian messages can tend to get away from our dependency on God when preaching sermon points that can leave you feeling as if this walk is all up to you. I’m here to remind you that it’s not. God’s good work didn’t start with your capability nor does it end with it. He goes FIRST, every single time. He went ahead of you, first with Jesus, laying down His life so that you may live, flourish, know Him and eternally live with Him. He went FIRST when you wanted to take temptation’s bait and sin your way until you could do nothing other than repent, by giving you a way out before you got started. He GOES FIRST, every single day, showing up for you, even when you can’t show up for Him.

Why?

Because He’s a good God, who is also so much wiser, stronger, knowledgeable, powerful, gracious, loving and merciful than you are. And that’s a blessing, friends! Be encouraged. Don’t let the pendulum swing towards legalism or apathy when it comes to living out God’s instructions outlined in Scripture. Know them well so you don’t do the most, or the least. Undergird ALL of your efforts, with the knowledge that God extends help ALWAYS! —-end Ayanna Mathis

instruct verse

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Ancient brick making in Palestine: Photo

So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying, “You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it. Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words.” (Exodus 5:6-9)

Photos from Palestine from the late 1800s an early 1900s are a joy to view, because the methods of the people, dress, and vistas were largely unchanged from the days Jesus walked. It was only in the 1930s and 40s that development began in earnest and especially after Israel became a nation again in 1948 that things began to modernize and the old ways were vanishing.

In the 1800s, as travel became easier with trains and modern steam ships, many upper class men and women in Britain or America took a Grand Tour of Europe. Interest grew and soon many expeditions to Palestine took place. The Ottoman lands were such a curiosity that a plethora of Travelogues to the Middle East burgeoned in the 1700s to early 1900s.

Travelogues of Palestine are the more than 3,000 books and other materials detailing accounts of the journeys of primarily European and North American travelers to Ottoman Palestine. An in depth survey of Palestine topography, and demographics was done by the Cartographer, Geographer, Philologist. The number of published travelogues proliferated during the 19th century, and these travelers’ impressions of 19th-century Palestine have been often quoted in the history and historiography of the region…

One such travelogue book in my Logos Software is Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, and another is the one I’ve quoted below, Egypt Through the Stereoscope. The stereoscope is “a device for viewing a stereoscopic pair of separate images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene, as a single three-dimensional image.” That’s why the image below is a double image.

I’m going through Dr Abner Chou of The Master’s Seminary lectures on Exodus. (Note- that link will expire on July 31, 2018, as Wikispaces is closing and hosted lectures will go away unless you download them prior). I find it interesting to see what the brick making operation might have looked like and enjoyed this view from a hill above an Egyptian brick-making operation taken from a Travelogue Expedition in the early 1900s written by Dr James Breasted. The book is available today and is considered culturally important.

Anyway, enjoy this long-ago view of making bricks in Egypt, and imagine thousands of years ago the cries of the Hebrews as they toiled under the merciless overseers and merciless baking sun. Then the Lord raised up Moses…

brick making

Caption-

‎Just north of the chief ancient city of the Fayum, we stand looking nearly eastward over the ruins of Crocodilopolis. Behind us stretches the Fayum, rising at last to the vast waste of the Sahara, spreading out to the far Atlantic. Beyond the trees that mark the sky-line before us the Nile is twenty-five miles away.

‎Deep down under these ancient crumbling walls lie the scanty remains of a town at least as old as the twelfth dynasty kings, who 2,000 years before Christ recovered this district from the waters of the lake. They built a temple here sacred to the crocodile god Sebek, after whom the city was called by the Greeks, Crocodilopolis.… When the Greek kings, the Ptolemies, came into power, they used the rich fields of the Fayum as gift lands with which to reward their soldiers.… Some of the greatest products of Greek thought have turned up among the house ruins, such as the Constitution of Aristotle, poems of Sappho and innumerable fragments of Homer.…

‎We see here modern natives engaged in brick-making by the same methods that were employed five thousand years ago. The soft mud is being fixed under the feet of a fellah, while another at a table molds it into bricks. These are taken while still in the molds and carried to the yard by a third native who gently detaches them from the molds and leaves them to dry in long rows.… In spite of the lack of firing they make a very desirable wall; in a practically rainless climate they stand well.

‎From Egypt Through the Stereoscope, by James H. Breasted, Ph.D., with twenty patent maps and plans, 1905

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Love week essay #2: What did Apostle John mean when he wrote ‘God is love’?

Christians know Jesus and thus, they know His love. But many people don’t understand His love, biblically.

Others who aren’t saved, if they know nothing else in the Bible, they know the verse “God is love” from 1 John 4:8…which they use to reject any discussion of sin, wrath, or judgment, half the Gospel. But unsaved people can’t love (in a Christ-like, God-honoring way). (1 John 4:8)

So what does Apostle John mean when he writes ‘God is love’?

Here is a reposted essay from the blog at Grace To You explaining the verse.

The Nature of God’s Love: John MacArthur on God’s Love Defined Biblically

“God is love” (1 John 4:8).

That’s a transcendent thought that finds its ultimate expression in the cross of Christ. The most famous verse in the Bible confirms that God’s love was the motive for sending Christ: “For God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16).

But God’s love didn’t first appear two thousand years ago—that’s where it climaxed. The truth is that all of history bears the undeniable marks of God’s loving nature. From Genesis to Revelation, His great love is displayed on multiple levels and in countless glorious ways. In fact, His unchanging love is older than time itself.

God’s Love Before Time

John MacArthur points out that right from the beginning—in fact, before the beginning—God’s love was the driving force that set the scene for His creation:

In eternity past, within the perfect fellowship of the Trinity, God the Father purposed, as a love gift to His Son, to redeem a people who would honor and glorify the Son (cf. John 6:39; 17:9–15). Thus, though God existed in perfect Trinitarian solitude, He created a race of beings out of which He would love and redeem those who would in turn love Him forever. [1]

It’s overwhelming to consider that God’s plan of redemption originated in eternity past and that His predestined strategy is fueled by His great love (Ephesians 1:4–5).

God’s Love in Creation

God’s love is also on display in the perfect world He created for us. The creation account repeatedly features the phrase, “and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 18, 21, 25; cf. 1:4, 31). And in His immense love, He created mankind as the capstone of His very good creation (Genesis 1:27–28). That theme continues throughout Scripture. The earth is full of God’s lovingkindness (Psalm 119:64). “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9). “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).

But there was a greater purpose behind God’s creative work. He did not create the world as the main attraction, but as the theater where His redemptive plan would take place and His love would be put on display. Even the corrupting blight of sin on God’s creation is integral to the display of His love: His redeeming love would forever remain hidden without sinners to redeem.

God’s Love in Humanity 

Furthermore, God’s love is also evident in the fact that He created people rather than robots. God is all powerful, all knowing, and perfectly capable of creating a race of creatures to do His bidding. But He is also relational and created man to reciprocate His love.

He designed sinners to know and love Him by an act of their wills (cf. John 7:17–18), though not apart from the work of His Spirit (cf. John 1:12–13; Ephesians 2:5; Titus 3:5). God’s greatest commandment is that people love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29–30). [2]

What a privilege it is that we, as sinners, can actually enter into and enjoy a loving relationship with our Creator as His responsive creatures. God is under no obligation to reconcile with His rebellious subjects, but He is “rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). His love is the means by which we can willfully love Him—“We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Is God’s Love Inconsistent?

But what about those who don’t love God? Is His love exclusive to Christians? Or does God love everyone equally? For many, those questions are vexing, as they wrestle with the theological implications of God’s love.

We recently brought those questions to John MacArthur. You can see what he had to say in the following video:

There is a universal aspect to God’s love. This general love of God for all people is most evident in the fact that He delays His wrath upon unrepentant sinners (Genesis 15:16; Acts 17:30–31; Romans 3:25). And while God’s saving love is exclusively bestowed on His elect, He powerfully displays His love for the whole world by offering the gospel to all people (Matthew 28:19).

But that general love of God is temporary—it extends no further than the Day of Judgment. By contrast, God’s saving love is exclusively and eternally lavished on those who believe. It is a love so glorious that the apostle Paul could scarcely contain his superlatives when describing it:

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7)

God is love. But His love is manifest in different ways over time, and bestowed according to His redemptive purposes. It’s a blessing to all men, but a comfort for only His elect.

love week #2 photo

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This Grace to You article originally appeared here. Copyright 2007, Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Posted in theology, Uncategorized

The beauty of doctrine

love doctrine

Doctrine is wonderful. I love doctrine. Doctrine just means “teaching.” But it’s so much more than that also. Doctrine saves, we are delivered by doctrine!

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (Romans 6:17).

You see the words ‘that standard of teaching’. The KJV uses the word doctrine. You were delivered by doctrine. God’s teaching saved you. Its usefulness and importance continues after salvation, for it edifies you, strengthens you, grows you, protects you, and more. (2 Tim. 2:24–26; Titus 1:9-11, John 17:17, &etc.).

Here is Scott Swain at Ligonier Ministries to explain:

What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8), the teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:24), and the teachings of God (John 6:45; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 2:27). Here, we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. This definition provides a helpful anatomy of sound doctrine, identifying doctrine’s source, object, and ultimate end. We will consider these elements of sound doctrine.

We are obedient to the Person of Jesus of course, but we are also delivered by doctrine and we are obedient to the teaching of Jesus.

True doctrine becomes your protection. Doctrine, understood, begins to build your convictions. Convictions become your protection. If you have few convictions, you are very vulnerable. The more sound doctrine you know, the more you move from being a spiritual child to a young man.” John MacArthur, The Master’s University sermon, Delivered by Doctrine.

Doctrine as a word and a spiritual discipline has become tarnished of late. This essay is to try and bring the beauty of doctrine to its rightful place in the Christian life and mind. Here are a few more resources for you, in addition to the links already shared in this essay.

What is doctrine? – Got Questions

What is essential Christian doctrine? – Christian Research Institute

Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith – Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

Posted in potpourri, Uncategorized

Prata Potpourri: Hate watching, Loving our neighbor, Four reasons why, Bible books in 1 word, more

He said He will come, He said to look up when we see these things come to pass, and He IS coming soon. When the rapture happens, the unbelieving world will be left confused, injured, unhinged, and devastated. Now is the time to urge those who do not believe to seek truth. Truth resides in Jesus and in Him alone. And aren’t we who know Him blessed with the most wonderful relationship of which we can possibly conceive? Even if we do not have opportunity to witness in a particular moment, let us reflect Him in our demeanor and smile. We are rejoicing always!

I always want to remind myself and others that we are temporarily living on this earth as it is. Our lives may seem long, but they are short, but a passing breath. So I always remind us that Jesus may return immediately, in the next few moments of time. Alternately, the breath may leave our nostrils at any moment, our days are numbered.

Therefore, we pray, Lord, Thy kingdom come…but until that moment, Your will be done.

Here are a few reading resources for you. Enjoy!

Musician Dallas Holm muses about God’s Will in the hard as well as the easy.

Shane Pruitt at Already Am wonders if the statement ‘believe in yourself’ does more harm than good.

Jen Oshman discusses parenting when there are so many disasters and fear in the world in her article Fear, My News Feed, and Psalm 46

Samuel James has some thoughts on hate watching the Emmys…

Julia at Steak & A Bible has some suggestions about reading the rest of Romans 6

Nick at Reformation 21 shares deep truths about loving your neighbor as yourself with a reminder that it is the second greatest commandment.

From Zachary Bartels, “I’ve previously shared with you the best advice I ever got about preaching: my homiletics professor told us, “Gentlemen, when you’ve finished your sermon and think it’s just about ready to preach, read it over and ask yourself this . . . Could this message still be true and make sense if Jesus had not died and risen again for our salvation? If the answer is yes, then throw it out and start over, because it’s not a Christian sermon. It’s self-help or life-coaching or tips for family dynamics, but it’s not a cross-centered message, which is what we are called to proclaim.” Read on for the context and the point in The Jets, the Sharks, and Jesus

Housewife Theologian Aimee Byrd explores Four Reasons Why Every Christian Should Study Psalm 110

Garrett Kell at All Things for Good lists Every Book of the Bible in One Word

World Magazine reviews the documentary Fallen
A dangerous duty: Fallen spotlights the risks police officers face—and the sacrifices they make

Enjoy the day! Let’s remember this simple, profound, timeless, wonderful truth:

painting john 316 verse
EPrata painting