“I delight in Thy Word” (6th segment) Nos. 26-30.

(We are posting these ‘small, unforgettable scriptures’ in sections of five each. This is the sixth.  The first was posted on February 22, 2015.  To find it, go to www.joemckeever.com and scroll back to that date. Scroll forward for subsequent segments. Eventually, we intend to have 20 segments for a total of 100 “scriptural delights.”)

26)  No generation gap in our worship.  Ezra 3:10-13.

Pastors find such wonderful preaching values (i.e., texts that speak to God’s people) in Ezra and Nehemiah that there is little point in my calling attention to anything. However, here are a couple of small insights that may be overlooked.

The remnant who have returned from exile in Babylon are working to rebuild the Temple which Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed.  The work is backbreaking and slow, the resources slim, and the enemies and critics plentiful.  So, at the point when they had completed rebuilding the foundation–perhaps nothing more than clearing it off and hosing it down!–they paused for a celebration.  This was the holiest ground in the entire nation and now it was available once more for worship.

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Adjusting to the new reality

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I had to rewrite my resume’ today for our blog and for a program where I’ll be speaking soon.  That’s when I realized that somewhere the material should state that I was recently widowed.

How exactly does one do this? And what’s the best way? And is it absolutely necessary? And why does it hurt so badly to type in those words?

One of the decisions I find myself making daily is whether or not to tell the person I’m talking with that everything has changed in my life.  Does the lady at the dry cleaners need to know? Margaret never came in, so they didn’t know one another.

I told a complete stranger at Walmart today.

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“I Delight in Thy Word!” — Vignettes 21-25

(This is the fifth segment of five brief Bible studies, on our way to 20 segments containing one hundred mini-studies.  The idea is to select very brief but poignant biblical texts, those we tend to rush past, and pull us back for more spiritual nourishment. To check out the previous segments, go to www.joemckeever.com and scroll back into January, 2015.)

21)  There’s something in Exodus 20 we must not miss. And it’s not the Ten Commandments!

“An altar of earth you shall make for me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings….. If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it” (Exodus 20:24-25).

I find this stunning. In the same chapter where God gives Israel the Ten Commandments, He makes provisions for an altar. Altars are places of death, where animals are slaughtered as sin-substitutes.  According to this text, the altar could be made of dirt or rock, either one.

So much for the way of salvation being to “just keep the commandments.”  (The next time you hear someone say that is their religion, ask them why God included provisions for an altar in the same chapter.  They will not have an answer, believe me.)

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A fool-proof plan for those needing more frustration in their lives

You poor thing.  Life has been boring for you lately, and you have been searching for a way to perk it up, to insert a little anxiety into your days and wakefulness into your nights. We have the answer for you.  Eleven answers, in fact.

Here are Joe’s tried-and-proven techniques, all guaranteed to add frustration to your existence….

!. Buy a computer.

That’s all.  Just get a computer. From the first, you will be frustrated just looking for the “start” or “on/off” switch. You will gnash your teeth trying to figure out how to get everything out of the box and set it up. You will learn the definition of words someone made up, like “modem” and “yahoo” and “google.” Then, after your 10-year-old puts it all together and makes everything work, you will tear your hair out on an average of at least once a week.

This is not an exaggeration.  It’s why a large percentage of computer-users are bald. It’s why almost no old people are on the computer. They would have been, but the stress killed them before they got out of middle age.

The computer is perfect for people with insufficient frustration in their lives.

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“I Delight In Thy Word”–Brief scriptures packing unforgettable insights — (Fourth segment. Nos. 16-20)

(For previous segments on this series, go to our blog, www.joemckeever.com, and scroll back.)

16) The leper who broke the law when expressing his great faith. Matthew 8:1-3 and Mark 1:40-45.

It’s so easy to run right past great scriptural blessings.  Take this tiny incident….

According to Leviticus 13:45, lepers were to withdraw when healthy people drew near. They were to call out “Unclean! Unclean!” lest the person accidentally brush them and become ceremonially tainted, or worse, catch something contagious.  But look at this leper. He spots Jesus and runs toward Him.  Falling to his knees in front of the Lord, he calls out, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Interesting way of putting it: “I know you are able; what I don’t know is whether you are willing.”

Both Matthew and Mark tell us Jesus reached out and touched the man.  Remember, lepers were called “untouchable” for good reason. But Jesus touched him.

Gotta love Jesus. (I do!)

Continue reading ““I Delight In Thy Word”–Brief scriptures packing unforgettable insights — (Fourth segment. Nos. 16-20)” »

Regaining the swagger

Swagger: To carry oneself–walking, talking, daily activities–with an attitude of confidence, even boldness.

Here is our Scripture for today, class:

“Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear them. The Lord is with you. Since God is for us, who can be against us? I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!”

There!  That’ll put the iron in your backbone, Christian.

Three quick little incidents need relating here….

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Brief Scriptures with unforgettable insights: (third segment, nos. 11-15.)

(For the first two installments on this series of brief, memorable insights, stories, parables, etc, in Scripture which are easily overlooked but jam-packed with meaning. For the earlier installments, go to www.joemckeever.com and scroll back to January, 2015.)

11) The “snake on a pole.”  John 3.

In the brief incident told in Numbers 21, the story is presented without one word of explanation or interpretation.  It takes all of 6 verses (21:4-9) to describe how the people grumbled against God and Moses, how the Lord sent “fiery serpents” to cause the death of many, and then how the people repented and Moses interceded for them, followed by the fascinating remedy God handed down. Nothing had prepared them for such a panacea for their ills:  “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole.'”

Then, the snake-bitten should merely look at it and live.

“Look and live.” That’s what He said.

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“How are you feeling?” The hardest question.

It’s been over a month now since the hospital called saying simply, “Sir, you need to come to the emergency room. Now.”  Nothing more.

The lady said it twice. I got the message.

We had had no warning that my wife Margaret’s death was imminent.  We had welcomed family in over the Christmas holidays and Margaret had been doing pool therapy at the rehab hospital.  She wanted to be more independent and was driving herself from time to time. Twice recently she had said, “It’s time for you to buy another car and give me this one.”

“This one” was the Honda CR-V which, because it’s built a little higher off the ground than the Camrys we’ve driven for years, was easier for her to maneuver.  A year or more ago, we had given our other car to our local granddaughters. Margaret was putting 5 miles a month, at most, on it and Abby and Erin needed transportation.  When we began looking for cars, Margaret picked out this Honda with the understanding it was her car.  I smile at that. “Her car.”  To date, at 2 years 4 months old, the odometer shows over 72,000 miles, almost all put there by her preacher husband going hither and yon in the Lord’s work.  Still, she knew it was hers.

Life changes abruptly.  Your “other half”–boy, is that ever right!–is suddenly taken from you.  From the moment she coughed a couple of times and collapsed in the nail salon, then was whisked to the hospital a couple of miles away, until all life-support apparatus was removed and she took her last breath, was six days.  The death certificate lists January 29, 2015 as “the” day.

One I will never ever forget, I’ll tell you that.  If that is not the worst day of my life, then the previous Friday–January 23–when this happened, was.

“So, how are you feeling?”  Or, “How are you doing?”

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My love language was “being on the same side.” Here’s the story.

In an earlier article on this blog, we told how Judson Swihart’s book “How Do You  Say I Love You?”was all the rage in the 70s and 80s, until Gary Chapman restated and refined his material down to “Five Love Languages.”  Swihart’s book featured eight languages of love–meeting material needs, helping each other, spending time together, meeting emotional needs, saying it with words, saying it with with touch, being on the same side, and bringing out the best in the other.

When Margaret and I discovered the Swihart book decades ago and then did the assignment in the back to determine our love languages, we made some interesting discoveries.  We found that hers were “helping each other” and “spending time together”. Actually, this came as no surprise. I had known for some time that nothing made Margaret feel more loved than when I pitched in and helped around the house and we spent quality time together.

The surprise was discovering my own love language.

According to the formula, my love language was “being on the same side.”  If Margaret wanted Joe to feel loved, she should support him as a man, husband, father, Christian, minister, pastor, etc.  And she did.

I’m the one who had an awakening by this revelation.

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Second five of our list of overlooked but unforgettable Scriptures

I love coming across powerful but brief summations of God’s story. Sometimes it’s a paragraph or story, but often it’s two or three or four words.

We must emphasize that these are not isolated exceptions to the overall message of Scripture. Instead, they are small insights into the entire theme of God’s word.

Continuing the series….

6) Romans 8:31 “God is for us.”

The entire 8th chapter of Romans is a mother lode of spiritual riches if one has ever existed.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote several books on just this one chapter.  But let me call your attention to verse 31.  “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

This is the hinge verse of that great chapter. For 30 verses, Paul has been declaring that God the Father is for us, God the Son is for us, and God the Spirit is for us. (He does not do this in consecutive passages, but braids all three points together throughout.)  Then, in verse 31, he says, “What are we to conclude from all this? Just this: If God is for us, then who in the world can be against us?”

This needs saying: When Paul says “IF God is for us” here, he is saying “SINCE God is for us.”  He’s just established repeatedly that God is for us. Now he says, “Since God is for us, what does it matter who is against us?”  Answer: It doesn’t.  Some people will always oppose you, but Romans 8:37-39 says it really doesn’t matter.

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