Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 20, 2018

God’s Love Never Fails!

Art by Adele Bower ©

Loving the Unlovable

When reading the description of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:1-2 it is almost impossible to imagine this person as the author of the New Testament’s chapter on love. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

In the following verses, however, we read of a miracle, a miracle of God’s love reaching down and loving the unlovely. In verses 3-6 we read, “3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

From that point on, Paul was a changed man, something had happened to him that defies any natural explanation; from a persecutor of Christians Paul became a devoted Christian evangelist and apologist in a turn-around so dramatic the early church had difficulty even believing such a profound change was even possible!

We can all be truly thankful to God that with God all things are possible. Paul had been deeply and completely changed and was now prepared to devote his life to the spread of the good news about Jesus Christ; instead of breathing out murderous threats he was breathing out the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s Love for You

One of the things I have observed about getting older is the sad fact my collection of memories about personal sin is also growing. I can remember what seems to be an almost endless list of failures on my part for which I have been forgiven by God’s unmerited and undeserved grace. I rejoice in the promise of confession and forgiveness we have been given in 1 John 1:8-10, “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

There are times when I feel particularly unlovely and unworthy of God’s love; how can God love such a wretched man as me? This, of course, is my sin nature talking and is itself sin which needs to be confessed. The Apostle Paul speaks to the in Romans 7 and concludes with this statement: ” 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

The Bible is clear, our basis for operation is faith, not feelings; feelings are treacherous and not to be trusted, we must operate on the basis of what we are told in the Bible, what we know to be God’s truth for His children as revealed in His word; the entire 8th chapter of Romans exults in this marvelous fact!

God is completely aware of all of your sins, even those of which you may not be aware, yet He loves you perfectly and completely and always will. Verses 38 and 39 in Romans 8 are sources of never ending joy for me; they tell us, “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What beautiful, wonderful words of assurance, Praise God!

The Greatest of These is Love

In 1 Corinthians 13 the one who was Saul of Tarsus, that unlovely persecutor of Christians who became the Apostle Paul, tells us of the beauties and wonders of love. He concludes the chapter with these words, “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

In verses 8-10 Paul wrote, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

Why then, of those three, is love the greatest? The Bible explains that in several places; first with regard to faith we are told in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When we are home with our Lord we will see what we have hoped for all of our lives; faith and hope will have been replaced by sight. We will see and be in the presence of the one we worship as Savior and God. The overwhelming reality will be love, our love for the one who made it all possible, the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore the greatest and most enduring of these is love.

God’s Blessings to His Children

As Christians we are told we will live out our entire lives as soldiers of the Lord on a spiritual battle field; God knows full well the impact of the spiritual war on His children; He knows all too well the impact of Satanic attack on the lives of His children. In His grace and mercy, God has provided the helper needed to make it possible to rejoice in Him always and the way to let the helper provide the needed help at all times. The helper is the Holy Spirit of God who was given to us when we received Christ as Savior and will never ever leave us.

The way we call on the Holy Spirit for help is the confession of sin so the fruit of the Holy Spirit can characterize our lives. In Galatians 5:22-25 it is written, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Notice the first quality mentioned is love; when our lives are controlled by the Spirit of God we can manifest Godly love to all. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul had described this kind of love when he wrote, “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Please notice that everything listed in those verses places the emphasis on doing, not feeling. I believe the revered King James Version of the Bible used a word that conveys the thought more accurately, charity, we are told to maintain a charitable attitude toward others. While it is not feasible to try to achieve a warm personal feeling toward everyone it is possible to have a charitable attitude toward everyone; to exhibit those qualities described in verses 4-7.

A Final Thought

One of the joys of loving people and all of God’s creation with a Godly, charitable love is a better understanding of how God can love us. If each of us, with all of the flaws we know we possess, can love each other and God’s creation, it becomes much easier to believe a Holy God, who is free of all of those flaws, loves us as much as the Bible tells us he does.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 13, 2018

Do God’s Blessings have a Price Tag?

Is it Going to Cost you Something to Enjoy God’s Blessings?

While the Bible makes it very clear that salvation is free to all who believe it did require a huge price to be paid by the Lord Jesus Christ; a price so monstrous that no one but our Lord could pay it. While the physical suffering was unspeakable the spiritual suffering he endured as he took upon himself the sins of the entire world was infinitely greater I suspect and could not have been borne by anyone else. Christ alone was qualified and able to take upon himself the punishment he had to endure to bring salvation to all who would simply believe on him and receive him as their Savior.

There is, however, a price that each of us must pay if we are to grow in our faith and enjoy the blessings God has for his children. In our Lord’s closing words in Matthew 28:18-20 he tells his disciples:

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Notice particularly verse 20 where the Lord says “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” I’m reminded of some verses in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 15:20-23 where King Saul is speaking to the Prophet Samuel:

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else.21 Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
    your burnt offerings and sacrifices
    or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
    and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
    and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

Disobedience Will Cost You

King Saul had been given a clear command from the Lord by the Prophet Samuel; in 1 Samuel 15:1-3 it is written:

“15 One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

King Saul’s failure to obey God cost him the kingdom; he had been rejected by God for his disobedience to God’s command! I mention this to show how much obedience to God’s commands means to God; while King Saul partially obeyed the command he decided to do certain things in a way that seemed good to him and which were contrary to God’s command. By comparing verse 3 with verses 20 and 21 you can see how Saul thought he had a better plan.

How Does All This Apply to Christian Blessings?

Notice in Matthew 28:20 how the Lord once again places an emphasis on obedience; the God of the New Testament is the same one as the God of the Old Testament and obedience to God’s commands is just as important now as it was then. Sadly it appears that too many Christians want to view God’s commands the same way Saul did; they want to pick and choose those commands which appeal to them with the freedom to delete, add, or modify God’s commands as they choose.

While we are now living in a remarkable age of God’s grace there is still a price to be paid for failure to faithfully obey God’s commands and that is the absence of God’s blessings to the extent they might otherwise be available. God’s commands are given to benefit his people, not constrain or hamper their happiness but to ensure a full and joyous life before the Lord.

The Price of Disobedience

Time after time I encounter people who have disobeyed God’s commands, found themselves in difficult situations and only then looked to God for help and deliverance from those problems. It is surpassingly foolish to think one can ignore God’s commands, make bad decisions and then escape the consequences of those bad decisions.

While we can confess our sins to God as described in 1 John 1:8-10 and be forgiven and have the power of God, the Holy Spirit restored in our lives; confession of sin to God will not reverse the consequences of our bad decisions and sometimes those consequences can be very painful. I am saddened as I watch each new generation come along and fall into the same trap of thinking their way is better than God’s way.

The Price You Must Pay for Blessing

The truth of the matter is that each new generation of Christians must be taught the importance of obedience to God’s commands, we are not born with that knowledge and must be taught as we are growing up that God’s commands are given to enrich our lives; to make them the very best they can be.

If you would enjoy a blessed life then there is no substitute for your careful study of Bible doctrine and the faithful application of Bible doctrine to all of life’s situations and challenges!

It seems all too often the organized church sees its responsibility toward young people as being to keep them entertained, not to teach them. Failure to give young Christian people a solid foundation in Bible doctrine is doing them a very great disservice!

The Bottom Line

If you are to enjoy God’s blessings to the greatest possible degree it is vital you be obedient to God’s commands. God’s commands have been given to help you stay out of trouble and enjoy life to the fullest; you ignore them at your own peril! Please don’t think you can ignore God’s commands, live life as you please and still have the blessings promised to those who obey!

“Obedience is Better than Sacrifice!”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 6, 2018

“No One’s Ever Really Gone!”

Star Wars, the Last Jedi ©

It’s Happened Again

This past week I got my Blu-ray disc of “Star Wars, the Last Jedi” and I’ve now watched it twice and enjoyed it even more the second time. In this movie I found a scene toward the end where the character Luke is speaking to his sister, Leia and makes the comment, “No one’s ever really gone” which has triggered my response; once again the Star Wars universe has expressed something that is actually true in our reality. No one, in fact, is ever really gone; as human beings we are all created in the image of God and are eternal and will always exist in some form.

While it is true our mortal bodies are but temporary abodes; casting off our bodies made of the dust of this earth is not the end of us but only the next step toward who we are in the process of becoming!

God, our creator, is in the process of conforming us, as born-again Christians, to the image of his Son, the Second Person of the Trinity; you are, in the truest sense, a work in progress, you are eternal and your destiny is indelibly written in the “Book of Life”!

Think about that for a moment, there will never, ever be a time when you are not present somewhere in the form God has planned for you; there are some exciting times ahead for you, like it or not! The Bible speaks to this in Romans 8:28-30 where it is written:

“28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

The really exciting part of our reality is we have been called to be a member of the family of the creator of the universe; if that fact doesn’t grab you by the shoulders and shake you till your teeth rattle then you’re simply not grasping the enormous reality of who you are and what’s planned for you by your creator! As a Christian you are incredibly precious to God and destined for great things which are sure and inevitable; you will ultimately be glorified by God!

A Fearful Contrast

While the future for Christians is wonderful beyond our imagination, the future for those who reject the offer of salvation in Jesus Christ is terrible beyond our imagination. The Bible is equally clear on the future that awaits those who reject Christ as Savior. In Revelation 20:11-15 where it is written:

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Earlier in that chapter we are told, “They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” there is no end to the time of judgment, no time off for good behavior, no end of the sentence; a judgment that will never end, never!

While we now live in the age of God’s grace, mercy and love we should never forget the consequences of rejecting the free offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. You are free to accept or reject Christ as Savior but you are not free to escape the consequences of your decision and please believe me when I say your decision will have massive consequences that are either wonderful or terrible!

In September of 2011 I published an essay, “What is Reality? where I wrote:

“We too are being individually judged by God for inclusion in His eternal family. The only truly significant decision with intrinsic value we can make in life is our membership in God’s family; all other decisions are insanely trivial by comparison.

God has made that decision as easy for us as He can; just believe on His Son, the Second Person of the Trinity as one’s personal savior and membership in God’s eternal family is secured.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have effectually and successfully responded to true reality; your life will have been a success regardless of whatever else may happen.”

 Art courtesy of “Star Wars, the Last Jedi” – TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 29, 2018

Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Beginning of the End

The End of What?

Tomorrow is the day we observe Good Friday and while that is the day we remember the crucifixion, death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ; Easter Sunday is the occasion we celebrate His resurrection from the dead. A historic change in man’s relationship to God had occurred; by God’s grace the barrier between God and man that had been created by Adam’s deliberate sin of disobedience had been removed by the death of our Lord, the Second Adam from above.

You may recall in Genesis 2:15-17

“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Unfortunately Adam choose to disobey God and when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he, and all of humanity present and future died in Adam. As I’ve observed before, that means that you and I and every human born of a human father are born spiritually dead. It is the sin of Adam that created the barrier between God and man and the primary reason the Lord Jesus Christ suffered death as our kinsman-redeemer.

The Tearing of the Curtain on Good Friday

God gave us a symbol of the removal of this barrier when, at the time of the crucifixion, the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple was torn from the top to the bottom; signifying that access to God was now open to mankind through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

By his death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for all human sin for all time; sin had been removed as a barrier between God and man. As hard as it may be to imagine, personal sin is no longer the issue; the only remaining issue requiring resolution is receiving the forgiveness of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God.

The Good News

Because of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the end had come for sin as a barrier between God and man. This is effectively expressed in 1 John 2:1-2 where it is written:

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

I have written more on this in Is There One Unforgivable Sin?

The church can now proclaim a message of hope, a message of reconciliation and good news for a suffering humanity:

BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED!

(First published April 3, 2015, revised and updated)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 23, 2018

Palm Sunday 2018 and its Enormous Significance!

March 25, 2018 is Palm Sunday

This Sunday we observe and remember the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where He had come to die. This week was to be a terrible time of testing for the Jewish nation although they had no idea of the great significance of what was to happen from that point on.

The exact date for this momentous event had been prophesied by the Prophet Daniel and that prophecy, among many others, was being perfectly fulfilled by our Lord as He rode into the city. I would say it was certain that among the tens of thousands present that day only the Lord understood the staggeringly wondrous truths that were being put into place as that amazing prophecy was fulfilled.

Four hundred and eighty three years had passed since the beginning of the third and final group of three 490 year periods that had been given to Israel by God. The second group had ended with the Babylonian captivity and now the third group of 490 years had been put on hold at year 483 as also foretold by Daniel; I have written on this in some detail in a three part series, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.

Israel was being set aside for an unspecified number of years while a mystery was revealed, the mystery of the church and the age of grace, the age in which we now live. The remaining 7 years promised to Israel would resume at a point yet future when Israel would sign a covenant with the Antichrist.

The Entry into Jerusalem

Contrary to what we customarily celebrate, the entry was on a Monday, not a Sunday and it was not triumphal for our Lord; it was a time of great sadness as evidenced by Luke 19:41-42 where it is written, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

The particular Greek word used for wept means a loud wracking sob; our Lord’s body was shaken by His sobs as He entered Jerusalem. He is likely the only one who understood the enormity of what was happening; the Jewish nation was being temporarily set aside, their rejection of their Messiah was going to yield great suffering for centuries to come. Their judgment would be severe and is still in force today.

It is likely, in His omniscience, that Jesus saw the Jerusalem of 70 AD as destroyed by Titus and could also see the bodies of some of those welcoming Him as they lay silent in death. This was a momentous, tragic moment that was being recognized only by the Lord and the thought of what was going to befall Jerusalem and His people reduced Him to wracking sobs. I suspect His disciples were totally confused by His reaction to the sight of Jerusalem and the excited crowds.

From the Shephard’s Notes.com (I encourage you to follow this link!)

There is another extremely touching aspect of our Lord’s entering Jerusalem on Nissan 10. If we examine Exodus 12:3 we read, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month (Nissan) each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” This was part of the instructions given to Israel on the occasion of the first Passover in Egypt. The family would select a perfect lamb and place it on display in front of their dwelling so all could see they were offering the Lord their very best.

God’s Passover Lamb put on display

On March 30, AD 33, the 10th of Nissan, the Father put His Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world on display for all Jerusalem to see that the Father was offering them His very best. (In 2018 we are in year 5778 according to the Jewish calendar and the 10th of Nissan will be Monday, March 26th.)

After the passing of that day Israel had been set aside for an undetermined number of years. Today we are at year 1,985 and still counting as Israel continues to suffer judgments until the return of the Lord they rejected.

The countdown clock on Israel’s last 490 years will recommence when Israel signs a covenant agreement with the Antichrist; this event and not the rapture of the church will be the trigger that starts their final countdown and the beginning of the Tribulation.

While this was an amazing week, filled with suffering and anguish for our Lord and judgment for Israel, it was the reason our Lord took on human form; that was necessary that He might die for our sins. The moment of triumph was coming soon, the following week our Lord would rise from the dead having perfectly paid the price of our redemption.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

(First published March 28, 2015, updated and revised)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 19, 2018

God loves a grateful heart.

“Expressions” by Adele Bower ©

Jeff Wells is the Senior Pastor of Woodsedge Community Church and publishes a devotional to which I subscribe. This came in my email last week and I felt it was a beautiful expression of faith in our Heavenly Father and his unfailing love for his children.

“Overflow
March 15, 2018
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:5b

God loves a grateful heart.

David had such a heart. He could look at his life and smile at God’s goodness to him, God’s blessing to him. Yes, life had been hard. At times life had been excruciating. But God had been good to him. So good. God had filled his cup to the brim and it was overflowing.

David had a grateful heart.

What about you? Has your life been hard and at times excruciating? Probably it has. It’s the way life is this side of heaven. But God has been good to you. So good. Your cup overflows.

Could you not pray this prayer?

Lord, you have been a Shepherd to me.

You have cared for me and provided for me.

You have loved me even when I ignored you.

Your eye has always been upon me.

You have offered me unlimited grace.

You have sent your own Son to die for me.

You have freely given your Spirit to live in me.

You give me access to you at any time.

You have given me life and breath.

You have brought wonderful people in my life who care about me.

You freely forgive me when I fail you.

You strengthen me when I am weak and needy.

You hear my prayers.

You delight in my love.

You have given me a secure and eternal future with you.

You have rescued me from the pit of hell.

You have chosen me. You have gifted me.

You have called me to a meaningful place in the great cosmic battle against the enemy.

You have protected me.

You want me.

You have given me food and shelter.

You have been so good to me.

My cup overflows.”

© 2018 WoodsEdge Community Church. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for any non-commercial use.

I found this to be a delightful statement of faith; I hope it blesses you too!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 12, 2018

Your Biggest and Best Opportunity

The Opportunity Given to Every Christian!

“Silhouette” by Adele Bower ©

Daily I get letters from all over the world and read of the challenges and problems our Christian brothers and sisters live with every day. The problems are always similar and most often based on one dangerous mistake; living one’s life based on circumstances and not on faith in God.

By nature, I am a meticulous planner but life often deals out the unexpected; which, for a meticulous planner, is rather annoying. I have commented to my family how the most significant, life changing events for our family have been those that were unexpected and unplanned.

I have been guilty of trying to arrange circumstances in a logical and orderly manner therefore living the Christian life by believing and not by seeing has been difficult for me at times.

The Apostle Paul summarizes this in one short verse; “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” How many of you are struggling with the application of that verse to your life; I know I do. I want to believe it and apply it to my life every moment of every day but that seems to be an almost insurmountable obstacle for me.

A Place of Refuge

I take refuge in the words of Paul when he observes in Romans 7:14-25

“14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart.23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

I can really relate to Paul’s struggle, can you?

God’s Solution to Man’s Problem

By the grace of God that is not the end, Romans 7 is followed by Romans 8; whereas mankind’s problem is described in chapters 1 – 7, God’s solution is provided in the 8th chapter which begins with the glorious truths of verses 1-4 which tell us:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”

I rejoice in that thought many times each day; when sin attempts to immobilize me by reminding me of my unworthiness I look to God’s answer to my sin problem, the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at his First Advent. When our Lord said “It is finished!” it really and truly was finished!

“28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:28-30

In 1 John 2:1-2 we read:

“2 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

I love that summary of Christ’s work at the First Advent; he has atoned for the sins of all the world! I wrote of this in “Is There One Unforgivable Sin?” Sin is no longer the barrier between God and man it once was; there is now only one command from God in this age of grace: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from the second death.

The Wonderful Opportunity God has for You

As Christians we have not been left in the dark about what we should do and how we should do it; the New Testament has been provided to help us with the assembly process we call living. All of us are works in progress as long as we inhabit our mortal bodies; by God’s grace we are being conformed to the image of His Son and have been given the opportunity to embrace the changes God has provided for us.

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29

There is one key to the whole thing, however, and that key is simply the faithful application of Bible teaching to personal experience. It is not enough to know a doctrine of scripture; change comes when that knowledge is applied to living one’s life each day. Let your life be a tangible expression of Bible doctrine, live your life by believing and not by seeing; don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to live a life of rejoicing! Live your life by believing and not by seeing!

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 5, 2018

Once Upon a Time We Made a Life-Changing Discovery

Bible Study at Berachah

R. B. Thieme Jr. (Bob) – Born April 1, 1918; Died August 16, 2009

“12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Open the Word of God to ………”

When Bob Thieme got up to teach he opened every Bible study with the verse above and would then add, open the Word of God to, whichever book and verse would start the study on that occasion.

We were never to forget that Bible study was the way God spoke to us and was the tool God used to shape our lives for His service. At that time Berachah had a practice of giving a small hardback copy of the King James Version of the Bible with the Scofield Study Notes to each family that joined the church.

One of my memories of Bible study at Berachah was the rustling sound of many hundreds of pages being turned all over the church as Bob would read from the Bible, we all had the same version of the Bible; I’ve never heard that sound again since those days, it was a precious sound.

A Bit More History

While I was working as a paid soloist at St. Paul’s Methodist Church my wife was attending Berachah Church and getting some intense Bible teachings. On Sundays, after church, my wife would tell me about the two Bible studies that morning and I longed to share in that experience with her.

Fortunately, Bob Thieme was absolutely devoted to teaching the Bible and taught every night of the week except for Saturday and Sunday nights. As I recall, he taught at Rice University on Monday night, the University of Houston on Tuesday night and the remaining nights of the work week he taught at Berachah.

The challenge for the congregation was Bob’s practice of teaching a different book of the Bible each of those nights at Berachah. If you regularly missed one of those nights you were missing an entire book of the Bible and that was an intolerable thought.

Bob was a tireless workhorse of a teacher and inspired us to try and attend every Bible class he taught. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit had filled us with a deep desire to learn the word so we were both willing to pay the price required.

The Big Step of Faith

Remember, at this time I was still a full time student at the University of Houston and working almost full time to support my family. My wife was raising our son and was expecting our second child and now, in addition, we had chosen to immerse ourselves in the study of the Bible and had little time for anything else.

As with most students our finances were always in a precarious balance but the Lord had blessed us and by His grace we were making ends meet. The money I earned as a paid soloist was an important part of our family’s income although only a part as my major job was as an audio high fidelity salesman at Audio Center on Westheimer in Houston.

Going to Berachah was a thrill as we were learning so much about what the Bible had to offer. Before Berachah neither of us had a clue about the riches to be found in the pages of the Bible; going to Berachah and listening to Bob open the word of God was like going from darkness to light, what an amazing and life-changing experience that truly changed us forever.

Our desire to study together on Sundays was getting greater and greater the more we learned; it finally reached a point where we felt we had to step out in faith. I was to quit my job at St. Paul’s and we would go together to Berachah on Sunday mornings and it would free up my Wednesday nights as well for Bible class.

The money from my soloist job appeared to be vital to keeping our budget intact but we grew to believe the word of God was more important than our budget so I resigned as soloist at St. Paul’s.

I still don’t know how God worked out the details but our budget did not fall apart and we didn’t have to declare bankruptcy. Finally we were both able to attend Berachah together on Sunday mornings as well as most weeknights.

What followed was an amazing time of growth in the Lord, our experience at Berachah Church shaped the balance of our lives.

A Plea for Angelic Assistance

Being as enthusiastic as we were about Bible study we always sat on the second or third row right in front of Bob; we didn’t want to miss a thing!

At this particular service Bob was teaching on the doctrine of the guardian angel and by this time our second son, Keith had been born and we were on occasion carrying two boys along with the diaper bag, two Bibles and two notebooks, and my wife had her purse as usual.

Now remember, we were on the second or third row right in front of Bob when my wife leaned over to me and said, “I wish one of our guardian angels would carry the diaper bag.” Maybe it was the general state of our exhaustion but for some reason her comment caused us both to laugh, fortunately we were able to muffle our laughter but our bodies were shaking as we struggled to retain some semblance of composure.

While Bob was used to seeing us in that general location he did glance down as he noticed our struggles. After the class we apologized to Bob and tried to explain what had happened but if he saw the humor in the situation he didn’t let on. Needless to say neither of us has forgotten that episode and it is a rather pleasant reminder of a wonderful time in our lives.

Having been so greatly blessed by that journey of Biblical discovery I still long to share that wonder with others and hope others may discover the joys of Bible study.

Bob was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and inspired me to attend; unfortunately financial reverses stopped my early efforts to attend but by God’s grace I was able to go back after I retired from the home building business and finally graduated in 2009.

God’s way is a wonderful adventure and I invite all to share in it. For more on Bible study I encourage you to visit “God’s Second Greatest Gift.

This brings the series on my life to a close for now; any series that starts with “Once Upon a Time” can only end one way:

“And They Lived Happily Ever After!”

“Higher Ground” – Art by Adele Bower ©

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 26, 2018

Once Upon a Time we Moved Back to Texas

More Big Changes

During my last year of active service in the United States Navy I was transferred to what was called, “floating land duty.” This simply meant that although I was assigned to a ship we came back to port every day and on most evenings I could leave the ship if I wanted to except when I had duty and had to remain on the ship.

This kind of duty meant my beloved wife could join me so we rented a very small apartment, which had once been part of a front porch, and we set up housekeeping there in Norfolk, Virginia on Sturgis Street just off of E. Ocean View Avenue on the coast of Chesapeake Bay.

Adele on Porch on SturgisOur apartment is the enclosed area on the corner.

The owners of the house and front porch, which included our tiny apartment, were named Paul and Eunice Blanchard, a precious couple who attended Bayview Baptist Church.

For a short time after my wife joined me in Norfolk we did not have a car so the Blanchard’s agreed to take us to church in their car provided we attended Bayview Baptist Church. Considering the circumstances that was an easy decision. The pastor there was Brother Burkes and he was a good Baptist preacher who taught the eternal security of the believer with conviction and clarity.

My wife had been raised in the Christian church and found eternal security hard to believe so a new friend loaned her a rather surprising book which really captured her imagination, “Revelation, 35 Simple Studies in the Major Themes in Revelation” by M. R. DeHaan.

It was while she was reading this book she was born again into the family of God; while she had been a faithful church girl she was now a child of God; things had eternally changed for her! Although I had been born again as a child I had never started to grow in my faith and had almost no knowledge of the truth’s of Bible doctrine; it was at Bayview Baptist Church that we both started to learn and grow in our faith.

The Short Timer

In the Navy, a sailor who is reaching the end of his enlistment is referred to as a short timer, meaning he has only a short time left to serve. As a short timer my wife and I were already thinking about going home to Texas.

It did not take long for us to develop a sincere appreciation for the ministry at Bayview Baptist Church, the pastor, Brother Burkes, was a powerful preacher who taught the Bible.

While there we met a young man who asked us, when he learned we were from  Houston, if we knew of Berachah Church and we answered in the negative. He told us when we got back to Houston we should be sure to visit there as it was a remarkable church.

Before too long we had purchased our first car, a 1954 Volkswagen which cost us $1,800.00 and change (around $16,500.00 in today’s dollars). This was a new car and was beginning to develop a good reputation as reliable transportation.

Texas License Plates Rev.Texas License Plates at Last!

GTT (Gone to Texas)

Since I had been a student at Texas Christian University before entering Naval service; we returned to Fort Worth and lived there a little over a year before deciding to return to Houston. While in Fort Worth our first son was born.

For some unknown reason we developed a conviction we needed to move back to Houston. I now had the benefits of the G. I. Bill and had the financial assistance for schooling and that made a big difference. On our return I entered the University of Houston to finish up my college and worked part time to help pay the bills at a High Fidelity store in Houston. The G. I. Bill and my two jobs meant my wife could stay home and take care of our son.

The other of my two jobs was bass soloist with a paid quartet at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on South Main. From a musical perspective the job was a lot of fun; we would rehearse with the choir on Wednesday nights and serve as section leaders for our respective sections of the choir. The choir would sing at the second service and the quartet would sing at the first service; the challenge came in because the quartet would not even see the music they were to sing until the Sunday morning it was to be performed; we would go over the music once for interpretation and then perform it in the service. That required a pretty good sight reading ability which was an entertaining challenge at the time.

Berachah Enters the Scene

We had never forgotten the subject of Berachah church which had come up in Norfolk so when I started my job as soloist at St. Paul’s my wife started attending Berachah Church.

Since I had to be at St. Paul’s very early on Sunday mornings and we only had one car, I would drop my wife, who was expecting our second son, off at a drugstore about a block away from Berachah. At that time Berachah was meeting in a large WWII Quonset hut in downtown Houston.

I would leave her there with our son, Kevan so she would have Kevan, his diaper bag, her Bible and her notebook plus her purse to carry while she waited for Berachah to unlock the doors to the church.

It so happened the pastor of Berachah, Colonel Bob Thieme, popularly known as Bob, also visited that same drugstore for coffee on Sunday mornings; when he would leave for the church, my wife would follow.

After the Sunday services were over I would come back by Berachah and pick up my family and listen to the glowing reports of the teaching at Berachah all the way home. It sounded wonderful and exciting to me as the Lord had given us both a hunger for His Word. (to be continued)

(Updated and expanded from an earlier blog.)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 21, 2018

Home at Last

Well done, thou good and faithful servant

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