A Song by The Barn Again Gang


See the perspectives of Jesus ON His mother's side


Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Re-post From Bible Gateway - Reading The Epistles

How Should We Read the Epistles of the New Testament?

I was just eight years old at the time, but I still remember the day an irritated elderly lady came storming out of her house to yell at me. I was walking home from our three-room rural elementary school, goofing off with a couple of friends, when I opened the street-side mailbox at a random house and pretended to rifle through my mail—except it wasn’t my mail. It was the elderly lady’s mail. And she did not think my antics were one bit amusing.
Has it ever occurred to you while reading one of the epistles (letters) in the New Testament that you’re reading someone else’s mail? In a way we are, and in a way we aren’t. For two millennia Christians have read the 20 New Testament epistles as Holy Scripture, as the word of God for us. At the same time, the epistles were personal writings produced for specific people or groups of people, often responding to their particular needs. So we cannot understand the epistles unless we take the effort to discover what lies behind the words.
Some letters read like highly crafted treatises, like the magisterial epistle to the Romans. Others, like 1 and 2 Corinthians, are intricately connected with the needs of a particular group, the believers in the church in Corinth. They had evidently written the apostle Paul and asked specific questions, because he says in 1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now for the matters you wrote about… ” and then goes on at some length, responding point by point. Earlier in that same letter, Paul was responding to certain oral reports he’d gotten about what was going on in that complicated and troubled church.
A wide range of circumstances prompted the writing of the epistles. Disorder in a church, the threat of false teaching, trepidation about the end of the world, confusion about death, controversy over religious practices, ambiguity about ethics, weakness in leadership. Some epistles were meant as a word of encouragement or just a way of reconnecting. The books of Hebrews and Romans offer an expansive theological perspective. Some letters focus on a particular theological point: grace in the case of Galatians, Christ in the case of Colossians, the church in the case of Ephesians. Taken as a whole, these 20 letters add to the Canon of Holy Scripture a multifaceted, real-life description of both faith and behavior.
If you’re going to linger in a particular epistle, you will benefit from reading the article about that particular New Testament book in a good Bible dictionary or in the introduction of a commentary. You will get the essential features: who wrote it, to whom it was written, the occasion of its writing, the date, etc. If you are reading an epistle more quickly, the notes in a good study Bible will give you the important facts in brief.
It’s best to mediate on some parts of the epistles. For instance, the amazing songs and creeds and prayers embedded in some of them. Other parts of the epistles have complicated details that require the help of Bible linguists, historians, archaeologists, and the like, which we will find in Bible commentaries. If we get the help to understand what “food sacrificed to idols” means in 1 Corinthians 8, we’ll be able to learn the lesson there about Christian conscience and freedom. And we cannot understand the epistle of Philemon unless we learn something about slavery in the first century.
Epistles are one genre of Scripture that are best read in long form. Ignore the chapter and verse numbers, which were added to the biblical text in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Reading an epistle straight through is an entirely different experience from reading a few verses at a time. Think of it this way: If you went to your mailbox today and received a multiple-page letter from a beloved relative, you’d read it straight through. You wouldn’t read one paragraph today, another tomorrow, and so on. When someone asks you, “Did you get my email yesterday?” try saying, “Yes, and I’m savoring it by reading one sentence a day,” and see what response you get. No, we read letters well when we read them naturally.
Reading Scripture in context is a sign of respect for God as much as reading a letter from your mother straight through is a sign of love. The reason, of course, is comprehension. Details at the conclusion of the epistle of Hebrews make the most sense if the start of the epistle is still rattling around in your mind.
The epistles of the New Testament may not have been addressed to us, but they are for us. And we will cherish them as much as—and more than—any letter of love or encouragement a friend ever sent to us.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Vignettes From The Pearly Gates (Additional posts)

Unable to concentrate in following Jesus Christ because of the distractions and allures of the world? Want to become more focused in serving Him in your ministry. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2a).

Are you confused at the many names of deities of different religions being foisted to the world? Do you want to know who is the real way to salvation and heaven? "Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)

Jesus Christ and no other is the only way to the Father. This He asserted when He declared, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

How can we be assured that we will have eternal life with the Lord? We can, by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior for God promised, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)

We will all die (eternal death) if we do not accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior for God said, "For the wages of sin is death bu the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6: 23).

We must never be ashamed to read and meditate on the Bible because it contains the word of God for the salvation of mankind. " For I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16a).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Daily Devotion

Daily Devotion

God Goes Where You Go

By Martha Noebel
8 Comment(s)

Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9, NIV
How comforting it is to know that wherever we go God is there with us. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and we wonder if God is paying attention. We may feel so alone and even depressed. We can't feel God's presence, and we need His guidance and help.
Sometimes friends, spouses, and parents don't really understand what we are going through. But God does and He cares. God told Joshua to be strong and to have courage. Then He told him a wonderful truth: "The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Yes, that's right… wherever! We don't have to feel all alone. God is with us. He is working out the problems, and we don't even realize it.
But now...the Lord who created you says: "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.... From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse my actions. Isaiah 43:1-3, Isaiah 43:13, NLT
God is with us, leading us, guiding us, loving us, providing for us -- all with His unlimited resources. What do we need? Do we need strength, peace, love, joy, or hope? He has it all. He is longing to pour out His favor and blessing upon us. We need to be open to Him and to trust Him. We need, by faith, to receive what He has for us. It is essential that we realize how much He loves us and that He has a good purpose and plan for us.
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. Ephesians 3:14-16, NLT
This Scripture is awesome. There is nothing that God doesn't know and can't do for us. He walks with us every moment of every day. We need to speak these Scriptures to our hearts. The devil can't stand it when we, in confidence, speak God's Word. It builds faith in us and gives us the strength to stand.
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand-up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know! Psalms 139:1-6, NLT
Like David let us declare:
Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalms 25:4-5, NLT
You can trust God. No matter what is going on in your life, He is there! God goes where you go.
Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Re-post From Chris Russell (Eight Ways To Knowing God's Wiil For Your Life)

Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special speaking around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about communicating
read more
When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. Interestingly, now that I’m “old” (currently 47 years old), I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan.
So, then, how can we know God’s plan for our lives? Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have discovered eight vital keys to knowing God’s will. Here they are:
1) Walk with God.
For starters, if you are interested in knowing God’s plan for your life, then you must learn to walk with God. You need to develop a relationship with Him. Christianity is all about relationship rather than just religion.
And so you must cultivate your relationship with God. You must seek to know Him and not just seek to know about Him.
You will cultivate that relationship best by spending time in His Word, taking time for prayer, and taking every opportunity you can to be involved in church and small group Bible study opportunities. When you seek these disciplines in your life, God will begin the first steps to revealing His plan to you.
Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
2) Surrender your will to God’s.
Many times when we say we are seeking God’s will, what we are really wanting to say to God is this: “OK, God, here’s what I’m planning to do. Now I need you to rubber stamp this, all right?” I must tell you that this is not really effective in finding His true will.
Before God will begin to reveal His will to you, you must be committed to doing whatever it is that He desires for you to do. God will likely be slow to show you His plan if He knows you will likely not do that plan anyway.
Romans 12:1-2
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Jesus was willing to die for us, so shouldn’t we be willing to live for Him? When we surrender to Him, that is when He really begins to direct our steps.
3) Obey what you already know to be God’s Will.
Many people seem to want to know what God’s plan is for their lives, but they overlook the fact that 98% of His will is already delineated carefully through His Word. God is very clear about many, many aspects of His will. For instance, it is clearly His plan that we abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
If we do not obey the things that God has shown us clearly to be His will, why would we think He would reveal any further information regarding His plan for our lives? Obedience is an important first step.
4) Seek godly input.
One key component to finding God’s will is to seek the input of godly advisors in your life. If you don’t currently have 3-4 godly mentors, then I would highly recommend that you seek them out right away.
Think of it this way: you should understand that you are basically a composite of the five people you spend the most time with. So, then, it is vital that you choose those five people well. If you choose to surround yourself with godly advisors, they will be instrumental in helping you discern God’s plan for your life. But if you surround yourself with people who are far from God, your hope of finding His best for your life will be greatly diminished.
Proverbs 11:14
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
The church is designed to help you greatly with this. I would encourage you to be in church every single time the doors are opened. The more you involve yourself with a community of believers, the greater your chances will be of finding godly men and women who can help you discern God’s will.
5) Pay attention to how God has wired you.
God has created you to fulfill a specific role in this world. There is no one else who can achieve completely what God has purposely created you to do.
The Apostle Peter gives us this admonition:
1 Peter 4:10
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
God has gifted every one of us to perform a special mission for which we alone were created. How amazing is that? Wow!
So, when you seek to discover God’s will for your life, pay attention to how He has gifted you. His plan for you will always be directly related to the gifts that He has bestowed upon you. The great news is that you will automatically be good at whatever it is that He has called you to do!
6) Listen to God’s Spirit.
I experienced a major turning point in my own prayer life when I learned simply to shut up while I was praying. That may sound odd to you, and it seemed odd to me at first.
You see, I used to do all the talking when I prayed to God. But then, several years ago, I read Bill Hybel’s book, Too Busy Not to Pray. That book completely changed the way I approached God through prayer. Since reading that book, I have added a significant component to my prayer life: listening. I take time to listen to what God might have to say to me.
Practically, the way I go about this is to bring a notepad with me when I sit down to pray. Then I write at the top of several pages things like the following:
  • “What is the next step in my career?”
  • “What is the next step in my ministry?”
  • “What is the next step for my family?”
  • “What is the next step for my marriage?”
  • “What is the next step in my education?”
  • “What is the next step in my finances?”
During my prayer time, I meditate on questions such as the above. Often, God will start flooding my heart with ideas and information regarding one or more of those questions. I write as fast as I can as He speaks to my heart. What a glorious experience that is to sense His Spirit on me, guiding my thoughts and words.
Through experiences like this, He has shown me many times with great clarity what His will is for my life. I long for those experiences when He speaks to me like that. Those times are truly life changing.
John 10:27
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
7) Listen to your heart.
In addition to listening to the Spirit, I also recommend listening to your heart. To understand my point here, consider the following passage:
Psalms 37:4-5
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. (NKJV)
I love this passage, because it shows me that, when I am walking with the Lord, He will actually let me do many really cool things that I actually love to do! When you are close to Him, He actually begins to shape your desires so that you desire the things that He has already called you to do.
So then, His plan actually becomes a super-exciting adventure. I always have the most fun in life when I am doing God’s will. And that is because He shapes my “wanter” to want to do the things for which He has actually created me.
8) Take a look at your circumstances.
God often clearly demonstrates His plan for our lives by lining up circumstances in obvious ways. And He also shows us what His will is NOT for us to do in that same way. It is not His will for you to take the job that is not offered to you. If you are 5’ 6” tall and weigh 125 lbs., it is not likely that God has created you to play professional football.
Over the years, I have discovered that God is pretty good at opening and closing doors. He even did that for the Apostle Paul and his enterouge in Acts. Take a look at this passage:
Acts 16:6-10
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.
8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
So, even Paul had to face closed doors in his ministry. God often uses closed doors to show us clearly what He does NOT want us to do. And He also uses open doors at times to show us what He DOES want us to do. Of course, this does not mean that every open door is definitely God’s plan, but it does help to give you some basic direction.
A Closing Thought:
The next time you begin to ponder God’s plan for your life, I would encourage you to mull over the above eight keys. Use these principles to help you to hone in on His plan. And when you seek His will earnestly, you will find it!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do You Believe In Destiny?

Do you believe in destiny? If you do, have you discovered your destiny? Do you think you can achieve it in your lifetime? Please explain your answer.

Tags: Destiny, Crossroad of Life, Lifeline, Fate

Posted byMel Avila Alarilla

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Is Your Magnificent Obsession In Life?

What is your magnificent obsession in life? What would have been the greatest achievement of your life if only you had the chance to accomplish it? Please explain your answer.

Tag: Magnificent Obsession, Greatest Achievement in Life, Climb Every Mountain

Posted by: Mel Avila Alarilla