Friday, June 30, 2023

Hesed Love

Friday, June 30, 2023 Submitted by Kay Crumley

Hesed Love 

There are several familiar words in the Bible that are translated as love. The English language is limited in adequately translating those words. Our word, love, is used for a wide range of emotions, feelings, and actions. Love for family, siblings, parents, extended relatives is different from love for friends. We say we love some foods or beverages. We love our pets. We may love our possessions.  Love for our spouse is still different from each of the other kinds of love expressed here. While each of those examples are different, we use the same term, love.   

Three forms of love are included in 1 Corinthians 13 from the original Greek. 

·  Eros is physical or sexual love.  

·  Philos means warm affection for friends.  Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, is derived from the Greek.  

·  Agape is sacrificial, unconditional love. That’s the love we have from God. As humans we tend to put conditions on love for others, but only God can love unconditionally. 

Those three terms are familiar to those studying the New Testament.   

In a recent study of Ruth by Kelly Minter, I learned a Hebrew term for love, Hesed. It is another word that is impossible to translate adequately into English and retain the original meaning. For that reason, different English words are used to best convey the original meaning. The word hesed is used 250 times in the Old Testament. Theologian John Oswalt said hesed is “… a completely undeserved kindness and generosity”.  Isaiah 54:10 says, “Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken”.  In just these two examples we see three variations.   

Hesed is “wrapping up in itself all the positive attributes of God: love, covenant faithfulness, mercy, grace, kindness, loyalty–in short, acts of devotion and loving-kindness that go beyond the requirements of duty,” elaborates Bible scholar Darrell L. Bock. 

Hesed love is more than a feeling, it is putting those feelings into action. In Ruth, Naomi was widowed and lost her sons leaving their wives, Naomi’s daughters-in-law, widowed. One of the two returned to her family, and the other, Ruth, committed to staying with Naomi. Ruth left her home, family, and country to be with Naomi and care for her. She demonstrated loyalty, commitment, and going above and beyond everything that was expected. She devoted herself to doing whatever it took for their survival. She devoted herself completely to Naomi with this statement. “Do not urge me to leave you or return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16. At the end of the book of Ruth we see that she married well and had a son but even then, she laid him in the arms of Naomi.  That son would continue the family name of Naomi’s husband. Her love was extraordinary.  

Hesed expresses an essential part of God’s character. In Exodus 34:6-7 God describes Himself as abounding in or filled with hesed. That is translated in various versions as love and faithfulness, unfailing love, faithful love, steadfast love, and loyal love.  It expresses God’s faithfulness to His people.  In Exodus 20:6 God says that He lavishes His love for a thousand generations for those who love Him and obey His commandments. His love is trustworthy, loyal, and ever enduring. 

 How do we show hesed love to one another?  Is that even possible? Just as Ruth committed herself to Naomi, we can commit to those we love. We act on that commitment. We do what is necessary for the welfare of others. We put God first, others second, and self-interest last. Jesus set the example as servant leader. He served those He met and even bowed to wash the feet of His disciples when He knew one of them would betray Him. We can humble ourselves to go above and beyond cultural expectations to love others faithfully, in a trustworthy manner, and with mercy.     

Hesed is lovingkindness, faithfulness, goodness, mercy, and love. All are correct but none express it correctly. Hesed describes an emotion, links to salvation, binds the relationship between people and covenants with God. It moves toward actions and endures for all time.   

Thursday, June 29, 2023

What God Is Really Like

 Thursday, June 29, 2023 Some material taken from “Mistaken Identity,” by John Strappazon

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him… Psalm 103:11-13

What God Is Really Like

Moses was a man who knew what God was really like. He knew Him personally. He led the Children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years, and he was completely dependent on God for every twist and turn on their journey. Through his relationship with God, Moses learned about His ways. And through the words Moses spoke and were recorded about God, David learned about God’s ways and expresses it in Psalm 103. Yesterday we learned about three of God’s ways: He has a long fuse, He has a short memory but not a bad one, and He has a thick skin. Today we will talk about two more of God’s ways. 

He has a soft heart, but not a soft touch - God is compassionate and slow to anger, but He is serious about His commands and about our relationship with Him. He is not indifferent to the choices we make, and He does not indulge us to the point of allowing us to sin and get away with it. He is not out to “make us pay,” but he does not want us to live in sin. He loves us and knows that the wages of sin is death and if we choose to live in a life of sin instead of repentance and walking with Him, we will pay a horrible price. That breaks His heart.

God chooses to be kind to us. He is God - He doesn’t need us to love Him, He wants a relationship with us. He showers us with love and kindness expressed through forgiveness and understanding. He understands how hard it is to be us. 

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. Psalm 103:15-18

He has a Faithful Love - God is different than us. He is loyal, faithful, committed and true and He never tires of being any of those things. We are mortals and He is eternal. The scripture above says that for those who fear HimHis love for us is from everlasting to everlasting, never fading or ending. It is a gift that is not through any work of our own. His faithful love is for us, His children, and does not change if we stray from His side. He has always loved us and always will. No matter what we do or what we don’t do, His love for us remains. 

Our God is not a critical and mean authority figure in our lives. He is a devoted Heavenly Father who has so much patience with us; who chooses to forget our sin after we confess - not because He has to but because He chooses to forget; He has a thick skin; and he has a soft heart. We don’t have to be afraid of Him. He welcomes us with open arms every time. He never turns us away and no one is ever too far gone to be saved or reconciled to Him. 

This kind of relationship with Him is open to all who want to make Him their Lord and Savior. You can ask Him into your heart right now. You can pray with a family member or friend and on Sundays we have prayer advocates located in the back of the worship center or out in the foyer that can pray with you. 


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

What God Is Really Like

Wednesday, June 28, 2023 Some material taken from “Mistaken Identity,” by John Strappazon

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

What God Is Really Like

Moses was a man who knew what God was really like. He knew Him personally. He led the Children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years, and he was completely dependent on God for every twist and turn on their journey. God met Moses on the mountain face to face, and Moses witnessed God do many miraculous things. Some of the miraculous things Moses experienced God doing are the burning bush, challenging of Pharoah and the miracles involved, parting of the Red Sea, receiving the 10 Commandments from Him, meeting the needs of the Israelites while they were wandering in the wilderness. Through his relationship with God, Moses learned about His ways. And through the words Moses spoke and were recorded about God, David learned about God’s ways and expresses it in Psalm 103.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:8-12

In Hebrew “ways” means acts with reasons or designs behind them. God’s ways are not just who He is, but it is also about what He does for us. His ways are higher because He has the very best intentions and the greatest plan for our lives. We could never plan out our own lives as perfectly as He has. We learn to surrender our lives to Him and trust Him. As we grow in our relationship with Him, we will also learn His ways. David lays it out for us. 

He has a long fuse – God is patient with us. He never flies off the handle or overreacts. He is not easily angered. He treats us with mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. This is not to say that God is not ever angered. He can be angered, but it does not come quickly. It is God’s great compassion that keeps Him from completely destroying us in our sin. It is this same compassion that allows us to begin a relationship with Him as our Lord and Savior. In His compassion, He offers us salvation when we don’t deserve it at all. 

He has a Short Memory, but not a bad one – God does not hold a grudge against us. He remembers but does not hold it against us, instead offering us eternal life. As humans, would we be able to do this? Can you think of a person that has wronged you that you remember what they did but don’t hold it against them? We can only do this if we don’t dwell on what they did to us. We must ask God to take every thought captive. 

He has a thick skin – God is not easily offended. He can handle it when we feel angry or hurt because of something that has happened. He wants us to bring it all to Him. He does not expect us to ever repay what we owe – because in His book we owe nothing. Jesus paid it all. Unlike God, we are not thick skinned. We can get easily offended in a hurry.

Tomorrow we will look at the rest of the characteristics of God’s nature.                                                                                                                                                                               

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Leaving a Mark - by Donnie O'Fallon

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or her will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Wealth”, Matthew 6:24 NAV.

Leaving a Mark

We brought nothing into this world and we will leave it the same way.

Following the previous devotion of “LEAVING A MESS”, today I want to share with you about how you can purposefully accomplish LEAVING A MARK or LEGACY.

Everyone who lives will one day die, God says. The culture speaks of dying in this manor: Her health is failing or his treatment is not working. There is an entire enterprise on aging that offers options.  Their suggestions is to, “eat kale, drink red wine, walk ten thousand steps daily,”… that may help prolong life a little, but it won’t prevent the ultimate end of anyone.

Only a fraction of the people, ten to twenty (10-20%) percent will die suddenly. The rest will know and have time to make some preparations for themselves and their family to leave a LEGACY. A group of Boomers were surveyed asking, “what is important and what is most important? Receiving an inheritance of real-estate and money or financial assets along with receiving values, and wisdom for life lessons”? Ten (10%) percent responded saying, “it was important to inherit financial assets or real estate from parents grand. Seventy-seven (77%) percent responding, by saying, receiving assets along with values, and wisdom for life’s lessons is very important!”

You have something of value! It’s a folder of quotations, recipes, a poem, a box passed down from your dad/mom with sentimental stuff and the stories that are connected to those things. It could be money, or property through wills and trusts. 

MONITARILY WHAT CAN YOU DO?  You can leave an inheritance: Cash/Annuity; Stocks/Bonds; Pensions/IRA’s; Vehicles; other etc. In mine and Marsha’s Wills, we have left a certain % of our estate, to our church. 

SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP - When our son Keith died, eleven years ago, Marsha & I contributed to the Scholarship Fund at NSBC in his name, in his memory to go to Weatherford College. His son, Adam, our grandson benefited from it.

CREAT AN ENDOWMENT - The interest from an endowment gifts can go on long after your death, without an endpoint.

LEAVE YOUR STORY - What made you, you? Telling the story of your life and leaving a record of your experiences, people AND Ideas that mattered to you give’s those who love you a feeling of continuity from generation to generation. Your first crush, first job, first time afraid?  What were your parents like? Where were you happiest? Who you admired?

 LEAVE A LAST LETTER - Transcribe a letter as a way of leaving words to some individuals you love. Talk about their attributes, character, giftedness, qualities, strengths/weakness, and special times you had with them. Write encouraging and substantive words that will have meaning to them long after you are gone.

LEAVE AN ETHICAL WILL - An Ethical Will is a way of Transferring immaterial things to loved ones: your life lessons, your values, your story. It should to be a compliment to your Will. It’s putting your values, ethics and morality of how and who you came to be in written form for posterity sake. Begin by asking yourself certain questions about your values and beliefs? What did I learn from my parents and grand-parents?  Who were your mentors and what they contributed to your life? What am I especially grateful for in your life? What passage or passages have been most Impactful to your life?  Your hopes and dreams for their future? Historically Jacob, in the Old Testament, orally delivered such words to his sons, in Genesis 49. LEAVE A LEGACY, the glory of God and for benefit of The Kingdom of God

Prayer – “Lord let our live continue to be an influence for you even beyond our lives on this this earth .” Amen

Monday, June 26, 2023

LEAVING A MESS - by Donnie O'Fallon

Monday, June 26, 2023

“He said to me, My grace is sufficient to you, for my power is perfected in weakness…”  

2 Corinthians 12:9a NASV

LEAVING A MESS - by Donnie O'Fallon

At this point and time in my life, I’m praying for four close personal friends who are facing death in a short time and two close acquaintances who are battling cancer. Praying for these six people is profoundly impacting my life. Their plight is not is not life interrupted, this is life! Our culture speaks of beating death, defying age, the war on cancer: all battles we’re sure to loose. Next to birth, death is one of the most profound experiences we’ll ever face or endure.

There’s a lot of holding on and letting go, a combination of multiple feelings and emotions that are not easy dealt with. As a pastor for some 45 years, my goal has always been, to help individuals and their families to navigate through these delicate and difficult circumstances and to offer practical help and spiritual direction through Gods promises.

 One of my friends, with terminal cancer said to me last week,  ” I don’t wat to leave a mess for my wife or anyone else to have to clean up!”  We talked about what that meant and how to best utilize the time he had remaining. Those secrets, the junk, the unresolved financial issues and broken relationships are just some of those messes.  When it comes to the end of life, our messes become much more consequential. 

Myself? I am a bit of “messy person”, while Marsha on the other hand is just the opposite. I have my stacks and can be somewhat disorganized. Not her!  Everything is neat, tidy, in its proper place, knives and forks pointed correctly, in the drawer etc. Since my two heart episodes over the last two years, Marsha has asked me recently, to help her now to deal with my shop and tools, my Classic 1964 Pontiac GTO, my books, and library, and so on. She said, “I do not know the values, nor your wishes for all those things.” You see, I’ve done all the legal and financial preparations. But I want to make it easier especially for her and for my family when that time comes. I have already found out, my kids do not want my cherished and valuable stuff. So I’ve begun selling it and giving it away. Below are three things I’m going to do as Marsha asked me to do.

DESINATED AND SYSTEMATIC CLEANING - I’m asking a granddaughter who is more computer literate than me, to help me scan and delete files, shred papers etc. She’s a nurse also, therefore I’m asking her to dump all meds etc. I’m going through my closet, shop, books, and guns, selling discarding, giving away. “It is certain we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we will not carry anything out of it.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORDS - Get rid of toxic feeling and emotions. Right, hurt relationships. Most people long to hear words that mend fractured relationships. Words like: “Please Forgive me’; “I forgive You”; “Thank you for…”; “I love you.” Make peace with your past!

By doing some of these things we will lighten our load so we can be more present for the rest of our Life. Tomorrow, I Want to share about what it means to LEAVE A MARK.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12


Sunday, June 25, 2023

Mistaken Identity

What God’s Really Like - Psalm 103:7-18
John Strappazon - Interim Pastor


1.    He has a Long Fuse.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.




2.    He has a Short Memory, but not a bad one.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever…



      3. He has a Thick Skin.

 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.




      4.  He has a Soft Heart, but He’s not a Soft Touch.


For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; v.11
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; v.13
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.



A.   Forgiveness – v.12-13


B.   Understanding – v.13-14



       5. He has a Faithful Love


 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children — with those 
who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.


A.   Contrast – v.15-16

B. A Constant – v.17-18                                 


Friday, June 23, 2023

Four Lessons From Paul About the One True God

Friday, June 23, 2023 Some material taken from Wisdom for Today by Keith Warren
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;” Acts 17:24-25

Earlier this week we read about Paul in Athens and how his spirit was provoked. That day, he stood in the middle of the Areopagus, which was the name of both an official court of 30 or so city-leaders, and the hill upon which they met, and told them about the Gospel. He gave them four important points to consider about God as the One True God.

Four Lessons From Paul About the One True God

1.    God is not made but is the Maker.

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;” Acts 17:24-25

God made all things and cannot be worshiped by anything made with human hands. Paul said this because idol worship was so prevalent there. He wanted them to know how useless their efforts were. 

2.    God has guided history. v.26

“…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God,” Acts 17:26

Paul told them we are all descended from Adam through Noah, and the same God created us all. He alone deserves all our praise and worship. As our Creator, we should seek Him. He causes nations to rise and fall, and His sovereign hand is guiding things now.

3.    God has wired us for worship. v.27-29

“…if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.” Acts 17:27-29 NASB

Paul told them that as His offspring, we have responsibility to God. We should not think of Him as the same as the false gods, but reject those ideas, telling others the truth about His divine nature.

The altar to an “unknown god” shows that the Athenians did not know about God and Paul has been proving it with his evidence. 

Paul says more about this in Romans 1:18-20 

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20 NASB

Like all men before them, these efforts have fallen short, but God has made a way…

4.    The day of judgment is coming. v.30-31

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31

Paul taught them about who God is (our Creator), to who we are (His offspring), to our responsibility before Him (to understand Him and worship Him in truth), to our accountability if we dishonor Him (judgment).

Paul was bold and did not sugar coat things. His spirit was provoked about the wrong ideas they had about God and he told them about the reality of God’s coming judgement. For the first time in his talk to the Athenians, Paul referred to Jesus, as a righteous judge. He talked of His resurrection as assurance – the furnished proof to all men. For Paul, none of the Christian life made sense without the triumph of Jesus’ resurrection.

The path of salvation was illuminated: Life is a journey to the judgment seat of God, where Jesus Christ is Judge. The proof of the pre-eminence of Christ, over all that they have considered deities, is the resurrection. All of the philosophy, art and idol worship in their storied history could not compare to the work of God in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And now, they were without excuse.

“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.” Acts 17:32-34

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Overcoming Temptation

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Overcoming Temptation Submitted by Kay Crumley

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.  Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  

1 Corinthians 10:6-13 

The verse we will focus on is verse 13.  However, we need to look back to find how Paul got to that admonition to the early followers in Corinth.  Verses 1-4 of this chapter identifies who he is referring to, the Israelites as they are fleeing Egypt.  They had been led by Moses away from captivity by God’s hand.  They had experienced His deliverance, guidance, and provision.  Paul identifies their spiritual Rock was none other than Jesus Christ Himself.  Yet, in verse 5, Paul declared that God was not pleased with them because of their perpetual disobedience and ungratefulness thus He allowed them to be defeated in the wilderness.  Paul wrote these examples so that we, believers, will not do evil as they did.    

In verses 7-10 we see why God was displeased, what evil they did: 

1.         Do not be idolators.   

2.         Do not indulge in sexual immorality. 

3.         Do not test Christ. 

4.         Do not grumble/complain. 


Idols are those things we put before God.  Anything that takes on greater importance than following His teaching and seeking Him first is an idol.  Idols don’t have to be statues, physical things, but things or activities that have been given first place in our heart and mind and occupy our time and resources. 

The list of examples of sexual immorality is long.  We are to follow the principles set for us in the Bible of sexual purity.  

Testing Christ is being disobedient, questioning His authority, seeking our own way rather than His purpose for our lives. 

Grumbling is something for which most of us are experts.  Complaining that we’re not getting what we want, not how we want it or as much as we expect.  That is placing selfish desires first rather than seeking His will and purpose. 

Sin has consequences.  As His children, we are forgiven but not rescued from the consequences of our disobedience. What happened to Israel is included in Scripture as a warning for our benefit.  The consequences are high for believers who follow the sinful example of Israel’s wilderness generation. 

Be careful that you don’t think you are above being tempted or immune to temptations. We are all tempted, no temptation is new to man. Believers go through difficulties and are tested to allow us to learn to depend on God, to grow our faith in Him.  The good news is that God is faithful.  As Christians we are no longer slaves to sin.  We can choose the right path; God will provide a way out.  Through the Holy Spirit we can withstand temptation and pass the test.  We must stay focused on Him and His teachings, remember that He is the God of all and remain humble to Him.  Turn to Him, away from temptation, and He will enable you to endure.   



Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Altars to Unnamed gods

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.  So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. Acts 17:16-17

Altars to Unnamed gods

Most of the accounts we read about Paul in the Bible contain a lot of drama, and his second missionary journey was no different. Paul, Silas, and Timothy begin in Thessalonica, where some jews, and many Gentiles were persuaded by Paul’s message of the Gospel. Some of the other Jews were jealous, so they formed a mob and stirred up a riot. Paul and his companions had to flee in the dark of night to Berea, and Paul began preaching there. Many believed in Berea as well, but the mob from Thessalonica tracked him down and started stirring up the crowds there as well. Paul had to flee again, this time to Athens, leaving Timothy and Silas behind 

The scripture above says that Paul’s spirit was provoked because of the things that he saw going on in Athens. It was the cultural and intellectual center of the world, with the greatest university known at that time located there. It was a city of philosophers, and idol worshippers, with more idols in the city of Athens than in the rest of Greece combined. 

Have you ever had your spirit “provoked?” Have you ever found yourself in a place or with a person or a group of people that you felt so uncomfortable with because of their ungodly behavior? Paul was alone in this city that was thriving on and in sin. The Holy Spirit inside him could not rest and we observe Paul doing what he had been called to do, and sharing Christ with all who would listen. He found himself in the midst of a city full of idol worshippers. Paul stood up in the middle of them and told them about His true God and a Savior who could give them eternal life. But first, he had to address the idolatry.

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. Acts 17:22-23

Paul observed that in their extravagant worship to idols the Greeks had an altar to and UNKNOWN GOD, who covered any god that may have been neglected, a “catch-all.” This is the greatest example of “God can be anything you want him to be.”  Our society today is not much different than Athens when Paul was there.  The altars to the idols we build in our lives are not ‘unknown.’ We know exactly what they are. We may choose to cover them or hide them, or deny them, but deep down we know them. They may remain unnamed, but God knows what they are. 

Idols lie. The inanimate, lifeless objects speak loudly in our hearts and in our heads, making promises they have no ability to keep. They promise we will be happy if we have just one more _____, or a certain car, or more drugs, alcohol, sex, a bigger house, more clothes, or even more exercise. They promise fulfillment, and happiness, confidence and even love. These manmade relics offer what only the creator of the universe and the creator of man can fulfill. The One who made the one who made them is the only true hope for the longing we expect them to fill. We even realize they fall short and still we try and try again, or try another one, until we come to the end of ourselves, our resources, our people, and lose it all. Then God can work with us. Then we turn to Him and realize that He is the One we were seeking all along. 

God never plays games with us. He is always near and we don’t have to grope around in the dark to find Him. He is calling out and knocking down all of our altars to unnamed gods. When we are His children, if we live and move and exist in Him, there will be no room in our hearts for idolatry. Fill your heart and mind with Him and you will find what you have been looking for. 

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Acts 17:24-29 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Dissonance To Harmony

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  Colossians 1:10

Dissonance To Harmony defines dissonance as: inharmonious or harsh sound; discord; cacophony; Music; a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion; an unresolved, discordant chord or interval; disagreement or incongruity.

Musical composers put dissonant chords in music on purpose all the time.  But any musician knows that when you are playing music and you come across a dissonant chord, it always makes you stop and double check the music.  It is a tense and unstable sound and it usually does not sound quite right to the ear until it is resolved. It is incomplete.

Dissonance in our lives is the same way.  Is there something in your life that is just not quite right and you know it but you just keep going anyway? It could be sin, or an attitude, or One of the definitions for dissonance above is being in a state of unrest and needing completion.  That is exactly how our lives feel when we have dissonance in our life -  something is out of harmony with the rest of our life. It may be an attitude, a behavior or a relationship.  A sense of conviction and unrest equals the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, pressing us to resolve the dissonance.  Just as a musician stops and examines the music when they play a dissonant chord, we need to examine things when we experience dissonance in our lives.  Dissonance should make us re-evaluate what is going on.  It should make us examine whether or not something needs to change, or if we need to be more careful in some area of our lives.  Do we need to re-focus and make some new commitments?  What needs to change to resolve the dissonance?  Dissonance creates a longing for harmony and wakes us up to weaken future dissonance. It leaves us desiring to be complete. 

Dissonant chords can be beautiful. Even though they are inharmonious and a harsh sound, they resolve beautifully.  They serve a purpose.  In fact, some of the most well-known musical pieces in history are so well known because of the dissonance included which is the key element of the piece. The dissonance in our lives can resolve beautifully too.  God never wastes a moment of our lives.  He uses every breath we take and every moment we are alive for His glory in some way. They all serve a purpose. He promises that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28 

God will use dissonance in our lives as a part of the beautiful masterpiece He is composing. He incorporates it into the melodious chords of our existence and gives purpose to every second of our lives. All of our lives, every moment, He will use to complete us in Him.  

Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 1 Peter 3:11 NLT 

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