The Stranger Among Us
Have you ever met Jesus in your everyday life without knowing it?
Could one of the strangers you interacted with have actually been the Son of God in the flesh? What did you say? How did you treat Him?
Jesus said that the way we treat others is the way we treat Him
Hebrews 13:2 says:
- “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (KJV)
- “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (NASB)
Have you met an angel without realizing it?
What if that was no ordinary angel? What if you met The Angel of the Lord; God incarnate; Immanuel – God with us; Jesus the Son of God? Were you courteous, kind, respectful, hospitable, and loving? Or were you inconsiderate, neglectful, indifferent; perhaps even rude?
Every person you meet could be an angel, or even Jesus Christ Himself.
So, how do you treat other people?
Even if they are not angels or God in the flesh, everyone is special to God, created in His image; someone He loves; someone Jesus died to redeem. While teaching about the coming judgment of all people in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus said that the way we treat others is the way we treat Him.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before Him, and He will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I was naked and you gave Me clothing, I was sick and you took care of Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’
Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.‘
Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive Me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give You whatever You needed?’ Then He will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me.‘
And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (NET)
This puts the 2nd Great Commandment, and the Golden Rule into a new perspective:
We need to love others as ourselves by treating them the way we would want to be treated
Because Jesus says that is how we are treating Him!
So, how have you been treating Jesus lately?
Evolution’s New “Science”
Fact or Fiction?
Is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon
Have you ever noticed the similarity between the fairy tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen and the modern religion of evolution? This short book explores that similarity by pointing out parallels between the words and tactics of the thieving “tailors” in the fable and those of many ardent proponents of evolutionary “science.”
The high priests of evolution dogmatically declare that evolution is a “proven fact,” but I have never seen the proof. Have you? They claim creation is religion and only evolution is science, but is that really true?
Like the frauds in the story, evolutionists seek to scare people into professing faith in evolution by weaving tales about creationists being stupid and incompetent. Today Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye publicly proclaim that anyone who believes in creation rather than evolution is deluded and unfit to be a scientist, engineer, or medical doctor. But the bold bigotry of these claims is mere fabrication.
Genuine science deals with what can be observed in the present, what can be tested, and what can be replicated
Being a good scientist, engineer or doctor requires understanding and applying the laws of nature as they exist in the present, on which both creationists and evolutionists agree. What one believes about the origin of life and the universe is irrelevant to one’s ability to use the scientific method, practice medicine or apply modern engineering principles.
If you would like to sample more of the book’s introduction, it is available on the Evolution’s New “Science” page on this site.
If you would like to read the whole book, I invite you buy it as a Kindle book on Amazon. “Evolution’s New “Science” – Fact or Fiction?” is available for a mere 99 cents.
FYI – You don’t need to own a Kindle to read Kindle books. Free Kindle Reader Apps are available for PC, Android, and Apple devices.
Hebrews 11 is sometimes called “The Hall of Faith”
Because Hebrews 11 highlights the most notable deeds of many of the Old Testament saints. This includes several of the most significant acts Moses accomplished “by faith.” The faithful acts of Moses recorded in Hebrews 11:24-29 include:
- By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt (Heb. 11:24-26)
- By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible. (Heb 11:27)
- Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest He that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Heb 11:28)
- By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. (Heb 11:29)
The Old Testament records many other Acts Moses performed by Faith:
By faith Moses returned to Egypt and demanded that Pharaoh let God’s people go (Exodus 4-12)
By faith Moses warned Pharaoh before each of the 10 plagues (Exodus 7-11)
By faith Moses walked out of the city during the hail storm before asking God to end the plague of hail (Exodus 9:33)
By faith Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40-years
By faith Moses spent 40-days without food or water on mount Sinai receiving the law (Twice back-to-back!) (Exodus 24:12-18; 31:18; 32:15-16; 34:1-2, 28-29)
By faith Moses interceded with God on behalf of the children of Israel pleading for mercy after their sin (Exodus 32:7-14)
By faith Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch (AKA – “the books of the Law)
And much more
Three times, God’s Word declares that Moses was faithful in all God’s house (Numbers 12:7; Hebrews 3:2, 5). Moses was acknowledged by all of Israel as the lawgiver. Centuries later, the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day said, “We are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses . . .” (John 9:28-29 / KJV).
So what can we learn from the life of Moses that will help us live by faith?
- Moses was humble (Numbers 12:3)
- Moses communed with God (Exodus 34:28-35)
- Moses considered “the reproach of Christ” as better than enjoying “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25-26).
- Moses kept his eye on the prize. “He had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Heb. 11:26).
- Moses believed God – he endured, “seeing Him who is invisible” (i.e.: God) (Heb. 11:27).
- Moses obeyed God’s Word (Heb. 11:28)
- Moses trusted God (Heb. 11:29)
In light of this, how can we live by faith?
Conquer your pride. Humble yourself and humbly walk with God. (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Micah 6:8)
Commune with God through daily Bible reading and prayer
Choose Christ rather than the world. Openly display your faith, disregarding any shame or ridicule that might result. (Heb. 12:2-3; 1 John 2:15; Mark 8:38)
Keep your eyes on God and the finish line as you run your race (Heb. 11:26; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Keep believing in God and trusting His Word (Heb. 11:1-3; John 14:1; 1 Timothy 4:10; Heb. 11:6)
Obey God’s Word (John 14:15, 15:10; 1 John 2:3, 5:2-3; Rev. 14:12)
Trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Cor. 1:9)
So how are you doing? Are you “living by faith”?
If someone were to describe your life, what would they say you do “by faith”?
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Have you ever wondered why Terah (the father of Abraham) left Ur of Chaldeans to go to Canaan?
Have you ever wondered why God’s Word devotes eleven verses in Genesis 11:24-32 telling us about Terah?
Who is Terah anyway?
Beginning in Genesis 11:10, this chapter recorded “the generations of Shem.” From verse 10 through 25, the Bible simply lists what father begat what son, and how long they lived, through nine generations in a direct line from Shem to Terah. Beginning in Genesis 11:26, the pattern changes. Suddenly a lot more information is given about Terah and his children. Why?
Genesis 11:31 tells us:
Terah took Abram his son . . . , and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. (ESV)
But why does God tell us this?
Genesis 11:32 records the death of Terah. Then Genesis 12:1-5 tells us that God called Abram to leave his family and country to go to Canaan, with the promise that he would be blessed for his obedience. He was also told that if he obeyed, all the families of the earth would be blessed in him (Gen. 12:3). So Abram left Haran at the age of 75, taking Sarai his wife, his nephew Lot, and all their possessions with him, and entered the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:4-5).
So why did we need to know about Terah leaving Ur to go to Canaan, but stopping in Haran? After all, the record of Abraham’s family history and call could have started in Haran. Why did we need to know about Terah and Ur? Since the Word of God provides this information, I think it must be significant.
Why did we need to know about Terah leaving Ur to go to Canaan, but stopping in Haran?
First, what would motivate Terah to uproot his family and leave the great city of Ur to travel 1,000 miles to the land of Canaan? This would be a slow, arduous and dangerous journey. He would have to take a roundabout route staying on “the fertile crescent,” rather than taking a direct route across the desert. That is why he traveled 600 miles to Haran.
Second, since he left Ur to go to Canaan, why did Terah stop in Haran rather than continuing on? The land of Canaan would have been about another 400 miles, so he was over halfway there. Why did Terah settle halfway?
Could it be that God originally called Terah to go to Canaan with the same promises that were later given to his son Abraham? It seems likely, because that would explain his reason for leaving his extended family and the prosperous city of Ur to travel to a land he did not know. That would also explain why God chose to tell us so much about Terah and his move to Haran.
Could it be that God originally called Terah to go to Canaan with the same promises that were later given to his son Abraham?
So if God called Terah to go to Canaan, why did he stop halfway in Haran? The Bible does not tell us, so we can only speculate. Perhaps he stopped because of illness, injury, or just to rest. Terah died at the age of 205 (Gen. 11:32). Abram left Haran after Terah’s death when he was 75 years old (Gen. 12:4). So Terah was probably over 150 years old when they made the trip. Maybe he just got tired.
“Haran” is the name of Terah’s deceased son, Lot’s father (Gen. 11:27-28). So it is likely that Terah named the place after his son. If so, then Haran probably was not an established city when they stopped there. No doubt it had water and pasture land for livestock (based on the many shepherds there during the days of Isaac, Jacob, and Laban). So it may have provided a nice rest stop.
Terah stopped halfway; he did not fully obey
It could be that once they lost their momentum by stopping, they just got comfortable. Then inertia (an object at rest tends to stay at rest) took over so they just settled in. Maybe Terah felt comfortable enough that he just did not feel the need to sacrifice more in order to be blessed.
Whatever the reason, Terah stopped halfway. But if God called Terah to go to Canaan, then he did not fully obey. And incomplete obedience is disobedience. So Abraham got his blessing instead. Even though Terah is in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:34), it is through Abraham that all the families of the earth are blessed, not Terah.
All this Bible history is very interesting, but how does this apply to your life?
Abraham demonstrated his faith in God by continuing to obey Him through many hardships and trials. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23). So Abraham is the example we should follow, not Terah.
I may provide more applications on this subject in the future, but for now, Remember:
Terah stopped halfway; he did not fully obey
Starting is not enough. Like Paul, we must finish our course (2 Tim. 4:7)
We need to demonstrate our faith by remaining faithful to the end
If God gives you something to do, you need to see it through
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Would it surprise you to learn that there were several preachers in my ancestry? A few years ago, my sister sent me a copy of a book by our great, great grandfather, Oliver Stone Dean (1835 – 1927). In 1923, he published a short book entitled, “What I Saw In My Garden“. In this book, he used his garden to illustrate various spiritual principles and teach wisdom.
I knew nothing of this book until a few years ago. My sister found two of the books in a little chest full of memorabilia from our parent’s home after they passed away.
The book is in the public domain now, but has long been out of print. We thought it would be unfortunate to lose our great-great grandfather’s spiritual observations. So I transcribed his book into an electronic format to give it a second life.
My great-great grandfather has been awaiting the resurrection of his physical body for over 90-years. That resurrection will have to continue waiting until the return of Jesus Christ to rule and reign over the earth. But we hope to resurrect his book now by breathing new, electronic life into it.
This book is a window into another world. It takes you back to the America of a century ago. The people were different, the culture was different, and the writing style was different. But truth, wisdom and spiritual principles transcend time. If you would enjoy a glimpse into that world, and the thinking of a 19th Century Christian, then this book is for you.
My great-great grandfather’s book is now available electronically on Amazon as: What I Saw In My Garden: An Interpretation
If you would like to “Look Inside” it or buy it (for 99 cents) you can go to the “What I Saw In My Garden: An Interpretation” sales page on Amazon.com.
There is more information about my great, great grandfather and his book on a page on this site dedicated to his book. The “What I Saw In My Garden” page also includes a copy of the first chapter, if you would like to sample the book for free.
Do You Talk When You Should Be Listening?
The 5th of Stephen R. Covey’s 7-Habits of Highly Effective People says, “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” This wise advice succinctly states a Biblical principle.
“Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” – Stephen R. Covey
Thousands of years before Stephen Covey was born, King Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived) spoke thousands of proverbs (1 Kings 4:32), many of which were collected into the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs was written to teach wisdom and understanding through instruction (Prov. 1:1-6). In Proverbs, Solomon often contrasts the behavior of fools to those who are wise, and shows the natural results of foolishness.
Proverbs 18:2 states, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (ESV). Unlike Stephen Covey, the fool is not interested in understanding. It is not clear that he even cares about being understood. The fool just wants to speak his mind. The fool does not want to listen; he only likes to talk.
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2 / ESV)
This principle can often be observed in everyday life. People are naturally interested in their own lives, and many like to monopolize conversations. People often ignore what others are saying as they think about what they want to say next. And people often interrupt each other as they vie for airtime. In the midst of a long conversation, there is often an amazing lack of communication.
Proverbs 18:13 also speaks to this communication failure:
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (KJV)
This proverb clearly teaches that we should “listen to understand” before we respond to what another says. It also plainly states the consequences of this foolish behavior: “folly and shame.” Yet virtually all of us fall into this self-made trap at least on occasion. (I know I do.) Many people are especially good at letting their opinions rip on social media pages and other online forums.
Perhaps we all need to pause to examine our communication behavior and motives. You could ask yourself:
- What is my true motive for talking so much?
- Is my opinion really so valuable that it needs to be shared?
- Or am I just being proud, wanting to show off my vain opinion like a fool?
- Have I really listened? Do I understand what they said?
- Do I really even understand what I am answering?
- Is my pride setting me up for a fall (Proverbs 18:12)?
- Am I being Christ-like in my communication behaviors?
- Am I speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)?
- Would I want others to treat me the way I am treating them (Luke 6:31)?
We should follow the admonition of James:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19 / KJV)
We need to Listen More (be quick to hear) and Talk Less (be slow to speak).
In other words, We need to listen with the intent of understanding before we speak.
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Proverbs 8:32-36 on Wisdom
Wisdom is Calling You
In Proverbs 8, Solomon personifies Wisdom. So throughout this chapter, the speaker is Wisdom.
Proverbs 8:1-11 says:
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
Hear what Wisdom says in
Now therefore hearken unto me (Wisdom), O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
Hear Instruction, and Be Wise, and refuse it not.
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
So Be Wise and Listen to Instruction
Seek Wisdom and Live!
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The wisest man who ever lived said,
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”
Solomon used an interesting analogy in this Proverb. Because sharpening metal requires friction, it always generates heat, and often causes sparks to fly!
God often uses other people to work in our lives. Our friends and family may bring out the best in us by lovingly encouraging us.
But God often challenges us using people who rub us the wrong way.
This friction may chafe us. If we are not careful, we may get hot under the collar and lash out at those who irritate us. But that would not be the way of Christ.
Jesus would tell us to turn the other cheek, go an extra mile, forgive, and be reconciled to others.
Paul would tell you:
“No temptation has befallen you that is not common to man, but God is faithful and will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Paul would remind you:
- All things work together for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28).
- So you should give thanks in everything because that is God’s will (1 Thes. 5:18).
And James would tell us to:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 / NASB)
So the next time someone gives you some “Constructive Criticism”
- And you feel yourself getting hot
- And are are tempted to get mad
Consider the possibility that God is using that person to test you.
Even the most irritating feedback usually contains some helpful truth if you are honest enough and strong enough to face it.
Instead of angrily rejecting the criticism,
Be patient and accept the lesson God has for you.
Let the trying of your faith produce patient endurance in you, “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)
But why stop there? Go “the extra mile.”
Thank them for the gift of feedback they have given you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
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