Mention Jesus’ birth and people think Christmas

Old Testament scroll,

However, Jesus’ birth  is not what I want to ‘talk’ about in this post. A Biblical newsletter I have subscribed to since first researching the background of the Apostle John Series poses some questions. The following are some…

  1. Was Jesus conceived by Mary and someone other than her husband Joseph or the Holy Spirit?
  2. Could a Roman soldier have been involved?
  3. What were the cultural norms of the time about pregnancies out of wedlock?

Mary was a betrothed wife. That meant she had accepted Joseph as a husband, probably drunk from a betrothal cup (since that was the custom). Then he would have gone home to ‘prepare a place’ while she remained with her family. No sexual contact happened between the betrothed couple before the husband until he returned to claim her – usually a year later, but this could vary depending upon circumstances. Once the betrothal had taken place they were legally married, and it could only be dissolved by divorce. This could have been what Joseph considered when the news of Mary’s pregnancy came to him.

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. Matt1: 19 ESV

‘Just’ in some versions is translated ‘righteous.’

Perhaps, though, ‘just’ is appropriate too, because he could have publicly broken off the marriage on the ground of the apparent guilt. The consequences were ‘dire.’

“then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Deuteronomy 22: 21 ESV

However, Joseph ‘being unwilling to put her to shame’ had the option of a “writ of divorcement,” which did not necessarily specify the ground of repudiation, except in vague language implying disagreement.

This answers questions number 1 and 3, what about number 2?

Jesus' birth was the result of an ‘affair’ with a Roman soldier?

That is what it could seem to imply. However, the Bible has a different answer…

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1: 26 – 30 ESV (Bolding mine.)

Does this sound like a woman who would have an affair with a Roman soldier?

God had chosen the one to give birth to His Son.

Since His Son would be the Messiah, God would not have chosen a ‘vessel’ that was not pure.

If you think that is a ‘fantasy’ and God did not ‘father’ Jesus – consider how many miracles he performed. There are also a long list of prophecies fulfilled – between 300 and 400 according to some sites. A clear list can be found at  
https://www.simplybible.com/f986-prophecies-fulfilled-by-christ.htm

Or, does the reference to a Roman soldier suggest she might have been raped?

In Biblical times women were veiled

 

Again, looking at the culture of the times, young women of good families did not go out unaccompanied. After a woman’s betrothal she was veiled.

Mary was of the house of David, the purity of the ‘line’ was important to God as well as to David’s descendants.

I prefer to believe the Bible on the subject of Jesus’ birth.

Traditional portrayal of Jesus' birth

traditional portrayal of Jesus' birth
Can you see the simple error?

Clue: Related to the custom of the day.

You can leave a comment below.

Have a safe week <smile>

Susan

Where do the books, and novellas come from?

Books

Books and novellas come from the writers’ minds.  I can only tell you about my books and the process of writing them.

If you arrived here via the ‘welcome’ page you would have seen the cover and part of the blurb for the latest novella – ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’ I change the page for each of the new books and novellas I publish. There is a third novella coming. (Stay tuned.)

My books and writing

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

I have been asked before about how I write, but that was a long time ago, and now there are more. The Apostle John Series is complete, five books in all. Originally, they were inspired by a detailed series of Bible studies that set me wondering… and researching. Then, as I have seen other authors mention, the characters take over, so, I have to ask if I will ‘allow’ that, or if it takes the book in a different direction. Writers are often asked if they are ‘plotters’ or ‘pantsers.’ In other words, is each book plotted out chapter by chapter, or written by the ‘seat of the author’s pants?’

Mine are a mixture. I know what will happen, and key points on the way to the end, but the bits in between are the result of inspiration, research and sometimes a bit of correction. (The characters have to remain consistent over the book series, and in the case of the first novella, to the way they were in the books in the series.)

Please allow me to explain

After the Thirty Days, by Susan M B Preston

After the Thirty Days is the completing of Esther’s story. This novella picks up some threads from the middle of Hell Shall Not Prevail (before we join John on Patmos.) Her cousin, Judah, heir to their grandfather, ‘Old Simon,’ and the workers in ‘Old Simon’s’ shop are also carry-overs from the series to this novella. All of them needed to be consistent with where they appeared in the books in the series.

No Evil Shall Befall You follows After the Thirty Days – loosely. Simon, son of ‘Old Simon’ returns to Egypt where he has lived for many years to an unpleasant situation he must deal with before he can act on his plans.

No Evil Shall Befall you

In the third, and final, novella, Simon returns to Ephesus.

(Any more at this point would be a ‘spoiler’ and although it is written in my head, it is just over halfway in the manuscript.)

I check everything from the start each time I write.

Making the books authentic

book research

It takes a great deal of research to make the books true to the times. Someone once commented that it would have been better if there had been a kiss in one of the books in the Apostle John Series between a couple whose betrothal was being planned. This would have been totally inaccurate to the time and culture… unless the young woman had been a different ‘type’ of person.

 

I knew this type of information because of extensive research, but my readers do not necessarily have these facts.

This is why I have added ‘Marriage in the 1st Century, AD’ to the ‘Starter pack’ of background information for VIP Readers.

For current VIP Readers a link to download this new PDF will be in the next newsletter, together with ‘Death and Mourning in the 1st Century, AD.’ There is another planned – background to the Egyptian aspects in the second novella. ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’

Biblical Fiction Books

All the books in the Apostle John Series, as well as the novellas are Biblical fiction. (Spoiler alert – the characters in the novellas are not Christian, but the fiction is Biblical.)

My aim with all of them was, and is, to tell the story of the times. I have been told that through the characters I succeeded and I am grateful to my readers for their feedback.

Remember, you can always ‘pay it forward’ and leave a short review where you bought the book and help other readers make up their minds if it is for them.

Hope you enjoyed the ‘peep behind the scenes’

Till next time,

Susan

Alpha and Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come—the Almighty.
Revelation 1: 8 Berean Study Bible

Some translations leave out the definite article before ‘Alpha and Omega.’

What is the Alpha and Omega?

Alpha and Omega, Greek letters

: Alpha (Α) and omega (Ω) are the first and last letters, respectively, of the classical (Ionic) Greek alphabet. Thus, twice when the phrase “I am the alpha and the omega” appears it is further clarified with the additional phrase, “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6, 22:13). The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet were used because the book of Revelation is in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_and_Omega

What does Christ mean, the Alpha and Omega?

Sometimes when a person hears something over the course of time, it is merely words that have always been known. Alpha and Omega – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but why did Christ say He was?

Is it possible He meant He was at the beginning of the Book and the end of the Book – the beginning of time and the end of time?

Let’s check.

Sometimes when a person hears something many times over the course of time, it is merely words that have always been known. Alpha and Omega – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but why did Christ say that?

Is it possible He meant He was at the beginning of the Book and the end of the Book – the beginning of time and the end of time?

Genesis
Revelation, the end

The gospel of John might have a clue there…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1: 1 – 3

I was surprised to find there is some debate about what this means. Years ago when I was in Bible College it was taught that Jesus Christ was the Word of God,

I saw a short YouTube video (not linked) where two Biblical scholars were discussing this ‘controversial’ section. The concluded it was a choice of the translators to use a capital for Word.

That view does not make sense of John 1: 1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Let’s look at Genesis – the Alpha

“In the beginning God, created the heavens and the earth”
Genesis 1:1

 

The word used for God in Genesis 1:1 is “Elohim,” which is a form of the word “El.” In the context of Genesis 1:1, there can certainly be no doubt as to who is doing the creating. In the Hebrew language the “im” ending imputes plurality. Therefore, “Elohim” is the plural from of the word “El.”
Chuck Missler: from his book ‘The Creator Beyond Time and Space.

The plural aspect continues…

“And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'”
Genesis 1:26, (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)

The Alpha – the One who became Jesus Christ

Remember John 1: 1 -3 ?

That nails it for me. The Word of God, before he was born as a human being, was with God.

In fact, when researching for Hold the Faith I spent a great deal of time studying these first verses of the gospel of John.

Does God change His mind?

How could we trust Him if He did? We would never know where we stood.

God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23: 19

And another

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13: 8

Conclusion

When Christ, at the end of the Book, says He is the Alpha – He was/is at the beginning of the Book.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ…
Revelation 1: 1…

The Omega

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Revelation 22: 12

At the end of the Book, Christ repeats…

I am the Alpha and Omega

In fact, he is all the way through the Bible.

Found on YouTube…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW1elxCB69A

A praise song.

Sharing,

Susan

P.S. – Don’t forget ‘No Evil Shall Befall You is only .99c US during the pre-release period, Which ends on the 1st of August. 

Read about it here http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/no-evil-shall-befall-you

Or buy it on pre-release here  https://www.amazon.com/No-Evil-Shall-Befall-You-ebook/dp/B07FVL99FJ

Also, on the first of August, the first novella, After the Thirty Days will be free for one day. 

These novellas are ‘the Jewish side.’ Another, the final in the series of novellas is coming later this year.

Nephilim – Angels or Men

Nephilim were as giants

There is a current ‘fascination’ on the subject of the Nephilim. I base this statement on the number of popular books on the subject to be found on Amazon… a couple even with the ‘bestseller’ tag. But does it mean they are telling the truth? I guess it depends on what you see as the truth. In this week’s blog I want to explore the subject of Nephilim from the Bible point of view.

Bible references on Nephilim

Pre-flood
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
Genesis 6: 1, 2 NKJV

Post-flood
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
Numbers 13: 30 – 33 NKJV

Grasshopper in the sight of the Nephilim

The identity of the Nephilim and the sons of God is debated in Christian circles. Many say the Nephilim are fallen angels, some say that they are men. Others suggest that the Nephilim were aliens.

(The latter has quite a large following also.)

 

Nephilim, fallen angel?

 

Currently, the most popular thoughts  seem to be that they are fallen angels who chose ‘daughters of men’ and had children with them.

Interesting, but fantasy, surely.

Why… read on.

On the Nephilim

In the beginning God created everything after its own kind.

God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1: 25

There are twelve other verses about ‘after its own kind’ here …

https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/According-To-Its-Kind

On Angels

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
(Job 38:4-7).

(Morning stars – generally interpreted as angels.)
Since according to that verse angels already existed and God created them before Genesis 1, it is reasonable to assume that they too were created ‘after their kind.’

With the benefit of modern science and technology mankind can crossbreed species. However, in creation I have not read of one species interbreeding with another. Not even mermaids. They are not real; there is no conclusive scientific evidence that proves their existence in real life. Mermaids are mythical creatures that have been a part of folklore and legends for thousands of years. (According to Reference.com)

Is it possible the Nephilim, being fallen, could breed with women?

Human beings were created ‘after their kind’ – angels ‘after their kind’ – which was spirtual. Even ‘fallen’ angels are still spiritual.

Answers in the New Testament

What higher authority is there but Christ? When answering a question on a different subject, He said this…

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.
Matthew 22: 30 NKJV

On Sons of God

The Apostle John recorded…

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3: 1, 2

The phrase “sons of God” is found eleven times in the King James Version: twice in Genesis, three times in Job, and six times in the New Testament. Other than its usage in Job, (where it possibly refers to angels) the term ‘sons of God’ refers to those who follow after God and keep His Word.

Bible. One book, two testaments

Although we use our imaginations, and sometimes have ‘fun’ doing it, there are many things we cannot know. For some things we must wait for the truth in the ‘hereafter.’

Thinking again,

Susan

Identifying Signs

Egyptian signs on column

Humankind (to be politically correct) has used signs since they were able to scratch out a sign in the earth. Language developed from the signs and the featured image shows the Egyptian hieroglyphics. A lot more complex than my memory of childhood games in Scotland.

One such game was rather  elaborate game where someone would go off well ahead of the group and leave a chalk sign – usually an arrow, to indicate a change of direction. The rest of the group followed later, using the chalk signs to find the first person.

I remember an elaborate game where someone would go off well ahead of the group and leave a chalk sign – usually an arrow, to indicate a change of direction. The rest of the group followed later, using the chalk signs to find the first person.

chalk signs

This only works if the one the others is following gives accurate directions, and does not turn the opposite direction. In this such a case the sign would be misleading.

Signs can be ignored

 

Possibly the most common signs to be ignored would be speed limit signs or even a stop sign at a road junction.

(Sometimes with catastrophic consequences.)

Signs of Christian Faith

Many Christians identify themselves using a piece of jewelry – a cross, either as a necklace, earrings, or even a pin/badge.

Yet the Greek word translated as ‘cross’ is stauros which means stake.

According to The Companion Bible, crosses were used as symbols of the Babylonian Sun-god.

(Image of Shamash, sun-god, found on Pinterest.)

Last week I wrote about Constantine’s conversion.

It turns out that he is credited with bringing the ‘cross’ we recognize today into Christianity.

The most accepted reason for the “cross” being brought into Messianic worship is Constantine’s famous vision of “the cross superimposed on the sun” in A.D. 312. What he saw is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Even after his so-called “conversion,” his coins showed an even-armed cross as a symbol for the Sun-god.”

http://tyndalearchive.com/scriptures/www.innvista.com/scriptures/compare/heathenb.htm

(This information is available at several sites.)

History of Christian 'signs.'

Many of the ‘symbols’ we associate with Christianity were originally associated with Chaldean/Babylonian worship.

(I may share some of these fascinating details in a future post, but to do it here would take the post off-topic and be far too long.)

If you are interested do an Internet search on Tammuz (said to be the origin of the Tau cross.)

Early Christians' views on the 'Cross'

When writing the Apostle John Series, I spent years researching and endeavoring to walk in the shoes of those early Christians. One think I am clear on… to those early Christians the ‘cross’ or ‘stauros’ was an instrument of torture and death.

https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Roman-Crucifixion-Method-of-Execution

Because crucifixion was an excruciating way to die, Rome did not impose this type of punishment on its own citizens.

(It is interesting that the image accompanying the article show crucifixion on a ‘stauros’, not a ‘cross.’)

So, to followers of the ‘Way’ the ‘cross’ would have been something to be loathed, as well as feared, not venerated

Still fascinated by research

Susan

Constantine, a true convert or merely adding a new ‘god’?

'sundog's' image, Constantine's vision?

Saint Constantine the Great, Emperor, Confessor and Equal to the Apostles

That is according to Wikipedia – but who made him equal to the Apostles?
Never, mind – that’s a rhetorical question.

So, who was Constantine?

Statue of Constantine


Most of us – or maybe these days, only some of us… have heard the story of how Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity.

‘Legend’ has it that before a great battle, he saw the sign of the cross in the sky and was told “with this sign, you shall win” – there are some variations in the story.

Constantine's conversion

The same article that proclaimed him equal to the Apostles says…

Although he lived most of his life as a pagan, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_the_Great

Clearly, his ‘baptism’ was ‘sprinkling.’ He could not have had full immersion baptism such as John the Baptist performed, and the Apostles did, because Constantine was on his deathbed. Because of this ‘deathbed conversion’ some modern scholars, however, debate his beliefs and even his comprehension of the Christian faith itself.

So, what about the vision of the cross? Did he see it or not? If he did, why was his conversion recorded as a ‘deathbed conversion?’

A discussion thread in a forum predominantly cited the fact that ‘baptism is one time only’. For this reason, and because Constantine knew he would continue to sin, left his baptism until his deathbed so he would be ‘clean’ when he died. 

Sounds rather duplicitous to me. (And if I can recognise it, you can be sure, God would.)

Did Constantine have a vision of the cross or not?

First, see the ‘featured’ image at the start of this post. That is claimed to be a modern version of the cross on the sun.

Be that or be it not… according to chroniclers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Lactantius, the battle of the Milvian Bridge marked the beginning of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. Eusebius of Caesarea recounts that Constantine and his soldiers had a vision sent by the Christian God. This was interpreted as a promise of victory if the sign of the Chi-Rho, the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, was painted on the soldiers’ shields.

I guess I am cynical, but that sounds like ‘superstition’ to me. (I grew up bound by superstition, we Scots are good at it, but I gave them up.)

superstition

Doing a quick search, I could not find any example of God (or Jesus) requiring a symbol for the clothing or shields of people ‘fighting in His Name.’

Conversely there are a lot of scriptures promising that He will fight for them.

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14)

“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” (2 Chronicles 32:7)

When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. Deuteronomy 20: 1

After reading, and researching on the subject of Constantine, I find it tempting to believe that, for his own purpose, Emperor Constantine added his branch of ‘Christianity’ to the arsenal of gods he already worshipped. 

See these pictures of the Roman temples in Constantine’s time. Consider if he was trying to balance the beliefs of the population, then the report I read might be true that he did offer pagan sacrifices up until he was too ill to go to the temples anymore.

Credit:
Photos taken from Rome in 312 – Emperor Constantine the Great.
Panorama in the Gasometer in Pforzheim/Germany, by Yadegar Asisi and posted in the Roman History group by Karen Gronbach Grüneberg

Perhaps most ‘telling’ is Constantine’s Arch.

According to the YouTube video linked below – there is not one Christian symbol on the Arch – but there are pagan dieties.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY9ae6SE1oo

Starting at 11.34 the Arch of Constantine is explored. (The whole video is approx. 44 minutes long.)

This information is part of the many, often contradictory, sources I sifted through while writing the Apostle John Series.

What you believe is your choice, I am simply sharing some interesting information I came across.

Susan

How do you listen?

Do you listen

How do you listen may sound like a strange question but consider it for a moment.

listen with the ear

Do we listen to hear, or to respond?

Listening

Do we listen to form an opinion, to learn something, or to reject what is being said?

Do we filter what we hear through our own opinions or beliefs? 

Listen through our own lens. Camera lens
no button to refuse to listen

Sometimes this may be the right thing to do.

On other occasions we might miss something we need to know.

Could this be why we don’t listen?

The TV ads ‘yabber’ at us, Strangers ring us up and without a pause to say who they are start trying to sell us something.

When checking Pixabay for images for this post I was surprised at how many images of Twitter there were. Even though I see they have changed the number of characters allowed per tweet from 140 to 280 ‘characters’ … ‘characters’ includes spaces and punctuation. Another option for images was Facebook. Is that how we communicate now? Are we trained to communicating with two sentences, or a ‘like’ on Facebook?

There is an ad on TV and it seems to be aimed at preventing suicide – it’s about talking and listening. (It’s a very well-put-together ad.) My question is would we hear the need… always supposing the person had the courage to voice their feelings?

Busy, Busy, Busy

Is it possible that some of the time we start off listening then our minds drift away on to a mental list of things we have to do?

I have lived through the difference in our society.

People used to visit each other’s homes for morning coffee. They would sit and listen to holiday stories, children’s achievements and so on. Now our lives are lived at a much faster pace with more demands. In most two-parent families both work. If not, there might be children to take to various sports or activities.

Listening is a skill

Listening requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.

It is also time-consuming.

Which is probably why it is not a skill that is much practiced these days.

More tbinking

Susan

Is Prayer Necessary Or Not

prayer, hands, Bible

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matt 6: 8 NIV

drawing, girl at prayer

So, is prayer necessary or not? Should we pray?

First of all, not all prayer is asking for things, or help. But the context of this verse is during the ‘sermon on the mount’. So the Son of God, (who prayed Himself) thought it important enough to teach His disciples and the others listening.

“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Matt 6: 6 – 8 NIV

If we deem prayer as unnecessary because He knows where He wants us to be, and in what circumstances, then we are saying that we do not have free moral agency.

God does not want puppets. Otherwise there would be no sin. Everyone, from Adam and Eve onward would have done what God wanted. No, from the scriptures, God wants US to choose.

God's view...

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
Deuteronomy 10. 12, 13 NKJ

It is true that we are not the people that God spoke to at that time, but He did speak to us through the words of His Son. 

Here is an interesting article…

True Israel of God

What is the essence of being a true Israelite? It is not literal descent from Abraham, but faith in God. It’s in the Bible: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7. “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children… but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” Romans 9:6-8.

The children of promise are those who put their faith in Jesus. It’s in the Bible: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” Galatians 3:29.
Read the whole article here…

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/true-israel-god

Seems like the answer is that we SHOULD pray.

  • Praise God in our prayers.
  • Pray for others
  • Pray for help
  • Pray for guidance

So, let’s look at that verse again.

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matt 6: 8 NIV

Remember the ‘rules’ of Bible study – do not read just one verse. Read what was said before, and what is said after in order to see it in context.

Don’t be like who? The verse before gives the answer…

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Matt 6: 7

Just thinking

Susan

The Cost of Faith

After last week’s post on ‘trials being par for the course’ my attention was drawn to the price others have paid for faith. One, William Tyndale, the man who brought us first the English translation of the Bible, and the other a lady I had never heard of until finding a poem she wrote.

First, cost of faith for William Tyndale…

William Tyndale, image

William Tyndale  was an English scholar who became a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his translation of the Bible into English. A number of partial translations had been made from the seventh century onward, but the spread of Wycliffe’s Bible in the late 14th century led to the death penalty for anyone found in unlicensed possession of Scripture in English.

(Featured image is  of John 1, Tyndale Bible.)

From one of his works ‘The Obedience of a Christian Man,’ William Tyndale wrote…

Mark this also, if God send thee to the sea, and promise to go with thee, and to bring thee safe to land, he will raise up a tempest against thee, to prove whether thou wilt abide by his word, and that thou mayest feel thy faith, and perceive his goodness. For if it were always fair weather, and thou never brought into such jeopardy, whence his mercy only delivered thee, thy faith should be but a presumption, and thou shouldest be ever unthankful to God and merciless unto thy neighbor.

Probably better than us, the man clearly understood that Christian faith was not ‘a walk in the park.’

From the same work…

The preaching of God’s word is hateful and contrary unto them. Why? For it is impossible to preach Christ, except thou preach against antichrist; that is to say, them which with their false doctrine and violence of sword enforce to quench the true doctrine of Christ. And as thou canst heal no disease, except thou begin at the root; even so canst thou preach against no mischief, except thou begin at the bishops.

William Tyndale was executed for heresy by the Roman Catholic Church of his day. He was strangled, then burnt at the stake.

Execution of William Tyndale

Legacy of William Tyndale…

In 1611, the 54 scholars who produced the King James Bible drew significantly from Tyndale, as well as from translations that descended from his. One estimate suggests that the New Testament in the King James Version is 83% Tyndale’s.

Read more about his life – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale

Cost of faith for Jeanne Marie de la Motte-Guyon

Jeane Guyon, image

I want to finish today with a poem written by a lady I had never heard of until I found the poem.

Here’s a little bit of background on her though. Persecuted for her faith, accused of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church of her day, she was in prison when she wrote the poem. Imprisoned in a dungeon below the level of the ground for ten years, no natural light came into her life. They did allow her to burn a candle at breakfast, lunch and dinner. She wasn’t getting a lot of sustenance, but whenever those meager meals came along, she was allowed to have a candle so that she wouldn’t be in pitch black, and she’d actually be able to feed herself. Well, she wrote this poem sometime during that ten years. Somehow it got out and it was preserved. Listen to the acceptance of God’s will, — the resignation that is here.
She says:

“A little bird I am
Shut from the fields of air.
Yet in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there.
Well pleased a prisoner to be
Because my God, it pleases thee.
Nothing have I else to do,
I sing the whole day long.
And He who most I love to please
Says, Listen to my song.
He caught and bound my wandering way,
But still He bends to hear me sing.

My cage confines me ‘round,
But abroad I cannot fly.
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control the flight,
The freedom of my soul.
Ah! It is good to soar
These belts and bars above
To Him whose purpose I adore.
Whose providence I love.
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind.”
                                                    Jeanne Marie de la Motte-Guyon 1648-1717

Read the rest of her story here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Guyon

The cost of faith is a cost. No rose gardens here.

Thinking,

Susan

Trials are par for the course

Trials come in relationships

Par for the course… why? If we are trying to live by faith why do we have trials?  

On this subject, I came across a video clip on the site of someone who followed my older blog. It was an interesting song. ‘Before the morning’ (I will link to the clip at the end.)

It begins with questions about why ‘you’ are suffering if there is a loving God Who cares. Questions like this are quite common.

rose garden

Remember the old song “I never promised you a rose garden’? Well God does not promise us a life without pain and trials if we accept the sacrifice His Son made for us.

Trials never end – while we are alive.

As it was in the beginning of our faith…

  • In Hold the Faith, book one of the Apostle John series, Benjamin faced a faith-testing trial. Ours trials are different to those of the fictional characters, but some of ours are ‘faith-testing’ too.
  • In The Light of Truth, book three, I wrote about the trials of a background character who has moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, made a re-entry in this third book.
    Here things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John.
  • In book four, Keep the Flame, one of my favorite characters dies.
  • Book 5, Hell Shall Not Prevail, completes the series, and it was not the end of trials.

The books are fiction but the trials and challenges are similar to those we face.

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song? Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I have learnt a great deal about why things happen.

Take for example Jesus’ words...

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many people are told that because Jesus said “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’, that He has done it all for us. Not so.

Trials did not stop with Jesus’ resurrection

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, were all martyred. Also, according to legend, John was put in boiling oil. That does not sound like ‘Jesus did it all’ to me.

And what about these scriptures...

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James 1:2

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1Peter 1:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

These writers, who were Apostles, make it clear that we will have trials, and as we plod through them, our faith and trust in our Saviour grows.

Have you read this one?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1: 3, 4

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise must have been enormous, and another scripture says that He learned obedience through the things He suffered. (Heb 5: 8)

Jesus was schemed against all throughout His ministry. He must have been one of the loneliest, most lied about, most misunderstood person who ever lived. Not to mention the most cruelly punished. He was scourged, mocked and crucified.

plotting against Jesus

Our trials

never leave you quote

Although what Jesus and the early Christians went through makes what we go through seem ‘mild’ by comparison, our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help…

and try to recognise the help when it is given.

You might enjoy this song if you are going through a painful trial…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=New8i_eX3x8

Just thinking again,

Susan