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Unopened Gifts

DSC01596It’s been called the first hint of the Gospel.

God says to the Serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Reading our Story backward, we know that it was the Great Accuser who shows up in the form of a Snake asking beguiling questions about the goodness of our God (Rev 12:9). We also know that the seed of the woman is the Son of Man who will, in infinite wisdom, defeat our enemy through his own judgment.

But Genesis read forward would sound like a different story than we have come to know. Pages 1 and 2 give us no reason for alarm or fear. When the Serpent approaches the woman she finds him charming. Up to this point our first parents only know a world full of good seed.

Today, the good seed has come to harvest mixed with every imaginable hybrid. We quote Virgil the Roman poet who penned within his own story, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” We know by experience about the Trojan Horse left at the gates of Troy. We’ve made the same mistake as the Trojans who thought their enemies had left a parting gift because they had given up and sailed home.

Yes we do know some of the rest of our story. We know that in the seed of the woman there would be a far greater revelation of our Creator than what our first parents could see in their walks with Him in Paradise.

Yet we have only begun to open the gifts of Christmas…

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68 Responses to “Unopened Gifts”

  1. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    The gifts of Christmas (the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah) are so huge that I believe humanity misses them — humanity does not see or hear the evidence of our freedom in this Anointed One. The sentimentalizing of the Advent/Christmas Season is dangerous. When we get side-tracked with gift-giving and gift-getting in the marketplace, we miss the celebration of the coming of this Messiah into the world.

    From the point of the verse you cite, Mart (Rev. 12:9) forward three verses, there is a description of what the defeat of Satan (the real Christmas gift) looks like in the cosmic realm. John reports:

    “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

    ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

    ‘And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

    ‘For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.’” (vv 10-12)

    Perhaps the most encouraging gift we have not opened is the of The Accuser, Satan, being in his final death throes — knowing he “has only a short time.”

    These are a great gifts: “The salvation, the power and the kingdom and the authority of His Christ” have all come to us. Just as in the days of Rome’s demise, we have been chosen to be Christ-bearers everywhere — even in the blood-soaked arena of the coliseum. God is in charge of this time, and He knows what He is doing.

    Peace at Advent,

  2. poohpity says:

    It seems at times we can give Satan more credit than do but we can also go the opposite which is not being able to identify the tactics we have learned through the names given in scripture.

    #1. Satan means “the adversary” of God. The enemy is antagonistic to the planes and purposes of God. He will always seek to misconstrue and malign the character of God and to thwart the purposes of God.

    #2. Devil means “slanderous” to malign and defame the character of God and others. Whispers lies in hopes of denigrating God’s reputation, which in turn will diminish your confidence in God and cause you to mistrust His direction.

    #3. Lucifer means “day star” or “shining one”. The enemies appearance is attractive, alluring and charming. Because of this, he can approach you in an appealing way to lure and entice your attention and admiration. This deceptive package will often be the farthest from repulsive or foul, making his handiwork difficult to detect.

    #4. Tempter. The enemy seeks to mislead your passions so that you will seek to fulfill them in perverted, illegitimate ways. He’ll intentionally set personalized temptations in your path that are distort variations of God’s gifts to you.

    #5. Ruler of the world. Cultural and global methods to lead societies and people groups away from God.

    #6. Prince of darkenss. He has forces to carry out his purposes.

    #7. Accuser means “one who condemns”. The enemy seeks to weaken the believer’s confidence and influence by conveying condemnation and guilt. He points out and constantly reminds you of sin and mistakes in order to cripple the believer with discouragement and shame.

    #8. Father of lies means falsifier and liar. No truth or light. Blatantly misconstrue your personal reality and circumstances. He will also seek to mislead you with inaccuracies regarding God, His Word and His plan for you.

    If the people of Troy would have known how the enemy works their city would not have fallen. We know that Jesus defeated that seed but I think wants us to aware of what exactly it is that He conquered, so maybe the first gift is to know that He would starting with His birth.

  3. SFDBWV says:

    “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”
    Forest Gump

    If you consider information being a gift, there are aplenty unopened gifts ahead for us from God.

    I once ask a group of teenagers in my youth group what is it Jesus saves us from?

    After long silent stares down at the floor or up at the ceiling one young fellow answered, “Death”? Then a young girl said “sin”?

    Of course it begins with the fact that Jesus saves us from being disconnected from God by His sacrifice; a free gift.

    Like any action the force of such action continues on like the rippling effect of a drop of water in water.

    God’s free gift of Jesus opens up a “horn of plenty” whereby gifts keep coming and coming. Whether we recognize them or know how to use them is a different matter.

    There was a young fellow here in town I knew who once showed me his school text book on math. When he turned it to a page with math problems on it I ask him to give me the sum of one of the addition problems.

    Without hesitation he turned the pages of the book to the rear of the book where the answers were given and answered my question.

    All this little fellow had learned was how to find the right answer without learning how to reach the answer himself.

    The Book of Revelation is confusing to many for a reason. In order to understand the Book’s gifts of seeing the future you have to understand the history of how this all came to be.

    One without the other is incomplete and incomplete information can be very dangerous.

    Happy Hanukah.


  4. oneg2dblu says:

    Funny thing is the Jews, God’s Chosen People, who have the Old Testament with all the history, but, they do not have the understanding of the Book of Revelation, it is not found in their bibles.
    Perhaps, that is the reason why they do not see Christ as their Savoir, having a lack of knowledge, but, we know better, for God has blinded them spiritually from seeing, not from attaining human wisdom, or knowing their history.
    Yet, because of our having been given knowledge, spiritually given us, through the Gift of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, we know who they are, and why for now, they can not understand as we do.
    When we pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, we know all Peace beyond understanding can only come through knowing Jesus Christ as a personal Savoir.
    Know Jesus ,Know Peace,
    No Jesus, no peace.
    So, we Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.
    Or is it just a worldly peace, as in no daily bombings, threats, or attacks?
    “Come Jesus,” Our Peace…

  5. oneg2dblu says:

    Am thinking, how does one open a gift they can not see?
    Hard to get your hands, or head, around that one…

    So, to me, the “first gift,” is the gift of spiritual sight, and I believe it is one we can say, we have not opened for ourselves.

    It opened me, Praise God, I did not open it.

  6. oneg2dblu says:

    Speaking of babies… a baby does not know what a gift is, as they may first play only with the wrapping and never even touch the toy.
    That God that when we are spiritually Born Again, as baby Christians, He is right there holding our spiritual hand, guiding us along, and when we slip, He picks us up, dusts us off, and shows us a better way.
    Funny how God takes those who are already fallen, for,
    “All have fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

    So, we are already wrapped in our sin nature, which He slowly unpacks, unties the knots and bows to free us from our captivity of sin, and presents us as the newly opened gift, His Child.

    All for His Glory!

    What a wonderful, “First Christmas,” awaits many who are still being unbelievers today, as they get to be Born Again with Spiritual Sight, knowing they are truly receiving God’s Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ the Lord.

    The rest is history, or His Story.

  7. bubbles says:

    Gary, maybe a gift we cannot see that we can “open” would be like love. God’s love and mercy is a gift every day. People give us gifts of their time, which is more valuable than money.
    Even a text message is like a little present when it’s from a loved one. A photograph is a gift in a way. God blesses us with things every day. Eyesight, hearing, being able to walk, clean water, washing machines, coffee, the peace He gives us, watching over us, these are all gifts. Him being who He is and wanting us to pray to Him, and Him listening to us. . what a gift that is. Aren’t you thankful we are priests and don’t need to sacrifice any longer? That’s a gift.

  8. oneg2dblu says:

    Yes, our eyes can focus on many worldly things in the natural, a text message, a photograph, a sunset, a tree, all blessings.
    Maybe everything we see is to be considered as God’s Love.
    But, so is the awakening of the sight into the spiritual world, and battle, that is actively going on everywhere in this world around us, and in us.
    That gift of spiritual sight does not come from a friend next door, it comes from God who is Spirit, and gives us His Spirit, as the world can not give.
    If fact we are to avoid all such worldly presented things, Mediums, Horoscope, and the like.
    To me, it is all about the knowing of the Giver, that defines whether a gift is true light, or just another bright shiny deceptive symbol, given to do none other, than pull us, drag us, captivate us, or distract us away from the truth.
    Every good gift comes from above.

  9. bubbles says:

    Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. . . so I think that being able to acknowledge things in the physical world as gifts given from God is important. How many of us see a sunrise and think it’s lovely and then not thank God for it? He made it and we need to thank Him for it. I was speaking of learning to be thankful for small things God gives us every day. I think that being able to see the small things as blessing from God and thank Him is important. I don’t see them as distractions but rather another opportunity to be thankful. Yes, every good gift comes from above from the Father of lights and we need to acknowledge so and thank Him.

    But you are right because there’s the parts we can’t see. Reading in Daniel tells us of the spiritual battle with angels and the enemy. And we need to thank God for His protection every day.

    There was a co worker whose parent was on their deathbed. He wasn’t saved. We got together at work and began praying for this man to be saved. I didn’t know it if was ok to ask God for this, but I did in private. I thought there was a battle for this person’s soul. I asked God to send angels to surround this person’s bed and to keep the enemy’s hands away. Shortly thereafter, another co worker prayed the same thing, not knowing I had done so. I knew that must have been acceptable to ask God for such an thing. God heard and answered the prayers of many.

  10. tedmgossard says:

    Beautiful thought, Mart. So true. Thanks.

  11. remarutho says:

    Hello BTA Friends —

    You have described a great gift, Bubbles! You and your co-worker asked for the gift that is most precious — salvation for your friend’s father.

    You gave the dying man the gift of intercession — doing battle with dark forces. Your confirmation is your other work-mate’s identical prayer. Agreeing with you over here — God heard and answered those prayers for the dear dying father’s salvation at the eleventh hour.

    Nothing can part you from the joy of understanding that the Lord honors faithful fervent prayer. What a gift to be serving Him!


  12. SFDBWV says:

    The death of innocence.

    I will forever believe that God was not blindsided by the actions that took place in the garden. All part of what was to occur in order for the rest of the story to unfold.

    Even now as we walk with God the full discloser is seen by me to be found only within Jesus. All unknowns all questions all left to trusting Him, even that which we do not know to question.

    Reading Revelation always makes me feel uncomfortable as there is so much evil unleashed upon everyone on earth.

    However the glimmer of hope that can be seen by us may have been first seen in the story of Noah and the Ark, further strengthened by the Ark in Exodus and explained as Jesus being our Ark in heaven. By the fact that while all the plagues of Egypt occurred none of those evils occurred in the land of Goshen and even in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot being given safe refuge.

    The great and terrible day of the Lord will happen, because it is all part of the greater story which we are only given a glimpse of.

    Adam and Eve were innocent of even knowing what evil was as they walked in the cool of the evening with God in the garden; not until the time for the next chapter in God’s plans unfolded.

    All we really need to know is to trust all to our Lord Jesus of Nazareth even unto death.


  13. joycemb says:

    Good morning,

    Mart those are some good and encouraging thoughts you have here. It’s so easy to get lost in thoughts of sadness and grief some experience during the holidays… Searching for more goodness seems to be the antidote for the ‘blues’ . We can all rejoice in the magnificence of the Gospel and the great Good News anytime though that’s for sure.

    God bless us all this advent season!

  14. oneg2dblu says:

    Genesis 2:15,16
    “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

    So, along with having a relationship with the Lord God, we see there also comes a personal responsibility, or work to do.

    And where there is so much freedom given, there is also a commandment clearly given, even when knowing of his innocence, God still places obedience as the first commandment, making therefore, disobedience a broken commandment, or sin.

    We all know there will be consequences for our actions, both good and bad, as all sin has its consequences.

    You see, Adam and Eve, could have asked for God’s forgiveness
    and repented, but, they both chose to do otherwise.

    Adam and Eve, were never given a free ride just because he had a relationship with the Lord God.

    They were however given a life with freedom, along with its warnings.

    All part of the history, found in His Story, which God apparently thought we probably should know.

    Just thinking…

  15. poohpity says:

    Our first parents learned that God did not want them to hide from Him and wanted honesty through that relationship. We on the other hand through countless shows of God’s grace get the best revelation of the kind of relationship God wants with us, who He actually is and what He desires from us through Jesus Christ.

    Have you ever stepped on a rock unknowingly and felt how the bruise effects they way you walk and every step one takes it is a reminder. We seem to live everyday if we are aware of the way the adversary can bruise our heels but we can rest assured that it does not last forever. He may have dominion over this world but we are no longer of this world, we are Christs’. God took care of it from the beginning we can focus on the bruise or on the One who redeems, restores, justifies and overcomes.

    Opening the gift of revelation of God in Christ Jesus the gift that keeps on giving. The more one finds out about Him the more One wants to know, revelation upon revelation until we meet Him face to face.

  16. poohpity says:

    Each time we pass by a bible and do not open it, the adversary has won. Each time we do not go to be among other believers in church to join in worship, the prince of darkness wins. Each time we live under condemnation, guilt and shame, the accuser rejoices. Anything that takes our focus from God the devil has done his do diligence.

  17. poohpity says:

    We have unopened gifts all around and the powers of darkness has succeeded when we do not open them.

  18. jeff1 says:

    The greatest gift is getting to know God and in doing so knowing that He never gives up on me for I have faltered many times but He never sends me away empty.


    My Jesus knows when I am Lonely
    He knows each pain, He sees each care
    He understands each lonely heartache
    He understands because He cares

    My Jesus knows just what I need
    Oh Yes! He knows just what I need
    He satisfies and every needs supplies
    Yes. He knows just what I need.

    My Jesus knows just what I need
    Oh Yes! He knows just what I need
    He satisfies and every need supplies
    Yes, He knows just what I need

  19. street says:

    thinking of unopened gifts and some that are purposely hidden or remove like the stanza in a christmas carol.

    “I’ve made myself available
    to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
    I’m here, ready to be found
    by those who haven’t bothered to look.
    I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
    to a nation that ignored me.
    I reached out day after day
    to a people who turned their backs on me,
    People who make wrong turns,
    who insist on doing things their own way.

  20. SFDBWV says:

    “Been Thinking About”

    Interesting that when Paul addressed the great “thinkers” of Athens on Mars Hill they were willing to believe almost anything new, but when faced with accepting a dead man having rose from the grave they laughed and walked away.

    Today we have movies and TV shows about the walking dead and except for the likes of me they are quite popular.

    Yet among todays “thinkers” you will only get a laugh if you ask them to believe in a talking snake or a dragon, or for that matter a unicorn. All three which are mentioned in Scripture.

    Isaiah even mentions a dragon’s egg.

    Ancient drawings, or if you prefer, imaginings of dragons appear, especially in Chinese culture. Yet I would guess that most Christians don’t really believe in such a creature.

    In fact somewhere I am sure there are poll numbers that divide Jew and Christian alike as to whether they even believe that the events depicted in the creation and fall of man literally occurred as given in Genesis.

    What happens to the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation if we don’t believe the very first verses are literal? Does that mean the very last verses aren’t literal either?

    In ancient mythology Pandora opened a box out of curiosity, unleashing all of the ills of mankind.

    What kind of gift is under your tree?

    On a side note the followers of ISIS last summer blew up the tomb of Jonah as they marched across Syria. How many of you didn’t actually believe the story of Jonah, yet never knew his tomb was evidence of his being once alive?

    38 degrees and wet this morning.


  21. poohpity says:

    Mart, stated, “Today, the good seed has come to harvest mixed with every imaginable hybrid.” I wonder if you are speaking of “syncretism” mixing all kinds of different beliefs into the Gospel? Different philosophies, mysticism, gods, pagan rituals, mythology, variations of weeds anything other than the than the one true, undefiled “Good News” about our God.

  22. jeff1 says:

    I have not studied the bible and many of you hear may wonder why it is not important to me to know Gods word. You have to be me to understand that God has spoken to me in other ways and while I do not doubt He speaks to those who read His word I also believe He speaks to those who do not.

    For you to understand my reluctance to read what you believe to be the only way to God I will give you the reasons I do not believe it is the only way to God.

    I was not brought up in a religious household in that my mother who was illegitimate had not been baptized and never was in a Church other than the Chapels her and her friend would enter as they where open all day while our Churches where not.

    My mother had a difficult life as in those times being illegitimate held a stigma and as a result of that people treated her as not good enough to walk the same street as them and she would tell us of how as a child she was pushed off the pavement by those who believed themselves to be better than her.

    Any religious teaching I got was from my fathers side of the family. He belonged to the Church of Ireland and I went to Sunday School and also to the Evangelical Church on a Sunday afternoon.

    I was confirmed when I was 14 and believed what I had been taught was the truth. I had no reason to doubt for I was not even aware of other religions or other denominations that would challenge my thinking throughout my life.

    When I was 15 all hell broke loose in Northern Ireland and the Country was plunged into a war that was to last for 3 decades and challenge my beliefs in ways I could never have imagined.

    During those years there where times when I knew I had turned away from the teachings of my Church. I often went to Church and prayed and I continued to pray in my personal life but the truth is I was just going through the motions for what was going on around me was frightening and challenging my faith and while I was praying I was not really expecting anything to change for I was too aware that my Country was in a tit for tat war and God was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

    Hatred and revenge was what had taken over our hearts and blinded us to what was vengeance and what was justice.
    Both sides justified their actions and used History and an eye for an eye quote from the bible to justify those actions.

    My father among many at the time who could see what was happening warned me against allowing preachers and politicians to influence my thinking but I was young and headstrong and wanted to believe I was right.

    In my heart I knew my father was right for he was a righteous father and had not brought me up to hate others who did not share my religion or political beliefs but to treat everyone as my equal and to do onto others what I would want them to do unto me.

    Both personal heartache and the heartache in my Country took its toil on my health. I became very ill and had a mental breakdown which I know now was God’s way of bringing me back to my senses for I had lost all sightings of what was right and wrong.

    My father was by my side all throughout my illness and also an old friend of his who was now a Cannon talked to me of how God had a plan to redeem the world. He was old school and very biblical and talked to me of Jacob’s ladder and how angels are ascending and descending and that it is not for me to understand but to trust God for we are saved by God’s hand and not of our own works.

    I had not been faithful to God but He still found a way to get me to see the error of my ways. Since my father and Cannon Linnegan have both passed on and I have not met anyone I can trust the way I could trust them I now examine my own thinking and my heart and if in doubt leave it with God and focus now on what I believe God wants me to focus on and that is His teachings and not man’s for men can lead each other astray while God’s will lead to goodness and truth.

    Man’s teaching is an eye for an eye for they see that as justice but God understands that His way brings closure to man’s ongoing need for justice and in doing so ends once and for all man’s war against himself. For how can man truly love God or himself when he is at war with his fellow man but God’s way transcends man’s way and in doing so breaks the cycle of man’s hatred of each other.

    Will the circle be unbroken
    By and by, Lord, by and by.
    There’s a better home a-waiting
    In the sky, Lord in the sky

  23. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Mart, your assertion about gifts that are evil rather than good seems to mean the “beautiful” promise of Satan. The naive heart is easily deceived. You wrote:

    “We know by experience about the Trojan Horse left at the gates of Troy. We’ve made the same mistake as the Trojans who thought their enemies had left a parting gift because they had given up and sailed home.”

    Adam and Eve had not encountered evil, as you say. Eve was duped. Adam was duped. But, the lesson was learned that “all that glitters is not gold.” The shimmering forbidden fruit still beckons, and for various reasons it looks good to those who do not suspect the working of evil in the world.

    The forces of darkness have not given up and sailed home — that claim is part of the delusion of New Age philosophy that there is no more struggle and the kingdom is here in its fullness — so God will approve whatever we think of to do. No limits.

    Evidence that the kingdom has not come in its fullness is plentiful in Scripture (read forward or backward), and in the life we live in the countryside, the towns and the cities of our world. Misuse of power, corruption of purity, idolatry — all still flourish.

    In our day I pray we “consider Him who endured such hostility against Himself from sinners, so that (we) may not grow weary or lose heart.” There is still a struggle going on. Jesus has won a victory-gift that has not yet been entirely opened.

    “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

    Joy at Advent,

  24. oneg2dblu says:

    jeff1… that was a lot of history, and where you are now, and what you are doing or not doing, is part of your life experience and your continued faith walk.
    To be confirmed at fourteen meant you had to prove somehow, that you understood that Jesus Christ is Lord.
    That basic faith step you took many years ago, still pervades your being of who you are today, a Believer!
    So, perhaps, you were not so wrongly taught after all, and the mustard seed of faith you had then, has grown as well.
    God uses each of us in different ways, even when we can’t see it, understand it, or even live it by ourselves.
    You bless Him and you bless us by sharing your testimony.

  25. poohpity says:

    Viv, I have never understood the only way to God is the bible in fact that to me is a big lie. I believe the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. What I do not understand however how one can have such negative thoughts and feelings about something they have never actually checked out for themselves. That is similar to saying I do not like eel without ever actually tasting it.

    For instance the use of an eye for an eye. Moses asked God when there were fights, quarrels and harm caused from one person to another how do we hand out consequences for the crimes. Moses was a judge and leader over millions of people and crimes could not be just left without any consequences or there would have been chaos in their camps and lawlessness. So if a man burned another man on purpose the consequences would fit the crime after standing before the so called court of that day so the punishment would be to burn the man who burned the other man intentionally. If there was not witnesses to the crime and it was one man’s word against another then they took it before God or put the suspect in a place to remain safe until the truth could come out. Exodus 21

    Now we just put people in jail and that is the consequence of any crime. So if one man sets another on fire he goes to jail and when he comes out will probably set someone else on fire. The punishment does not fit the crime.

  26. poohpity says:

    I bet any money if one man gouged out the eye of someone else on purpose, intentionally and the court found that man guilty so his eye got gouged out too, I bet he would not ever repeat the behavior.

    If people who steal from another had to repay them double for what they stole by working hard rather than just sitting in jail, I bet they would think twice about stealing again.

  27. poohpity says:

    Now a days if someone makes an IED and maims another man and the person who did it was found guilty and was made to also walk on an IED and was maimed, I bet they would have empathy for the person they had harmed that has to walk around with only one leg or arm. I know it sounds drastic but I wonder if they would ever do it again.

    I know God can use any means to tell someone about Himself and at the beginning that is exactly what He did with me. God used cartoons my children watched and many other means and still does but I’ll be darn if reading the bible is in any way bad for any person. In fact it is the very reason there are so many misunderstandings and hybrids because there is a lack of people who actually read it. It was God who put it on my heart to crave learning about Him, is it the only way?, no. But I sure will not allow anyone to put me down for doing it because I do not put anyone else down for not doing it.

  28. poohpity says:

    If people want to remain uninformed then they miss a gift that just keeps on giving because each journey through God’s word there will always be something new to learn and although I understand that is just a book and that God is so very much bigger than what is contained in it’s pages but it is a glimpse we are given into His character, His intentions, His love, His grace, mercy and forgiveness. It is a glimpse of God that the prince of the air will not take away from me.

  29. joycemb says:

    Good morning all,

    I just listened to Our Daily Journey and so appreciate you, Mart and friends, for the positive message you bring from scripture. It will carry me through the day!

    It’s been unbelievably warm here up north, daytime temps in the 30-40 range for weeks and more to come. Haven’t had to take my winter wear out yet, yay!

    Joy in Christ Jesus every day! (No matter what the weather.)

  30. joycemb says:

    Street I love the way Eugene Peterson writes!

  31. SFDBWV says:

    Viv I appreciate your candor and honesty in giving an overview of your life and Christian instruction.

    I also understand your own personal difficulties in dealing with depression.

    One of the many angst’s of my life is that I can’t heal everyone of their ailments or disabilities, as I would love to be able to.

    My great grandmother Phoebe was illegitimate also, an embarrassment that affected her while a younger woman. She had a wonderful neighbor Cleo who led her to the Lord later in her life, but she always had trouble with one verse of Scripture that said a bastard will never enter into the congregation of the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:2).

    I don’t know as she died before I was born, but I hope some good Godly person clarified that Scripture for her. As those who knew of Mary considered Jesus to be illegitimate as well.

    There is much more to knowing Scripture than just reading it.

    One of my favorite little verses I use for myself and offer as hope to others is found in Revelation 2:25, “But that which you have already hold fast till I come” and Revelation 3:8, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My Name.”

    Some people use Scripture as a weapon and others as an olive branch.

    Be at peace with your Lord and mine


  32. poohpity says:

    Some people use scripture as a means to know God better and God seems to use it as a mirror for us to see our own reflection and to transform our thinking.

  33. foreverblessed says:

    God bless you Jeff! I was wondering, what does that to you when we quote a scripture here? Is that OK to you?

    About the subject, Mart is again giving a verse of Genesis 3:15
    ” he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

    Isn’t that the whole story of the bible? God redeeming man. We were lost, and became part of the kingdom of darkness. And only through Jesus can we be released and come into the Kingdom of the Son He loves.

    Col 1:13-14 (one of my favorite verses)

    Lately someone in my town told me he had written a scripture about Joris the Dragon killer.
    That is a legend that pops up in many countries as a tale.
    Joris has to kill the dragon in order to marry the princess.
    And I had a strange feeling that this is the story of Jesus as foretold in Gen 3:15
    The woman has to be freed from the imprisonment of the adversary.

    But one thing I would add, there are a lot of people I know, who do not believe that they are lost, and that they belong to the kingdom of darkness.
    So, the only thing I can do is pray for them, intercessory prayer. That is not just “the only thing”, it is a Great thing to pray, as God is the One who reigns,

    Psalm 93:1 The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty
    and is armed with strength, The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.
    Psalm 97:1 The Lord reigns,let the earth be glad

  34. narrowpathseeker says:

    Jeff1/Vivian From reading your comments, I believe that you “know” God and that your words reflect ones desire as well as a progressive achievement in becoming Christlike. Your honesty, your constant struggle to do better, your remorse for when you think you have failed is ALL inspiring and heartfelt. There are some people that have read the bible over and over again and it doesn’t appear that they even know Him at all. There will be people that will claim to have done much good in His Name and He will tell them, “Depart from me, I never knew you” I don’t believe for one minute that YOU will be in that number… Like I said, I believe that you know Him very well.. Thank you for all your positive contributions.

  35. joycemb says:

    Thinking about Gods speech to Adam and Eve as being the first hint of the gospel; what comes to mind is Romans 11:32 (ESV) For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    Could it be that Adam and Eves disobedience was actually part of the bigger plan for salvation of all to come? What I mean to say is did God plan for this to happen? Otherwise why put them in a perfect place with an adversary lurking around? Have we been blaming and shaming them when the whole incident was no surprise to God all? Just thinking and rethinking my stance on this story of our beginning.

    How does this make me feel? Like I never thought I could love Him more, but I do!

  36. joycemb says:

    Sorry I meant the serpent not Adam and Eve that God talked to.

  37. jeff1 says:

    When I went wandering off the straight and narrow onto a path that was wrong thinking I did myself a lot of harm mentally but mental illness was already in my family. My brother had suffered from Schizophrenia from a teenager and had been in and out of hospitals all his life.

    I am never going to be sure if I would have become unwell anyway for it may have run in the family but not knowing my mothers father I cannot be sure.

    I do know this that I always look to God when I am depressed and I always come away feeling better for it.
    I often find that my mind is in two moods either I am very close to God or else I feel very far away by which I mean that I am 100% sure that God is with me or else I am 0% that He is with me. It is I am told a chemical imbalance that creates my mood swings and can leave me extremely high or extremely low mood.

    It is with God I get peace of mind but the difficulty for me comes when trying to mix with people, I am alright in a safe environment among like minded people but have difficulties with those who are not so I find it best if I avoid certain situations.

  38. jeff1 says:

    Thank you Narrowpathseeker for trusting me, for as someone who has had much mental anguish I find it difficult to trust my own thinking at times. I find getting alone with God and reflecting on what I have done wrong and how not to repeat past mistakes keeps me from being critical of others. I had become critical over a period of time and I want to get away from being that sort of person for I do not like it in others nor want to be like it myself.

    I have learned from past mistakes that if I keep my own heart right with God then relationships with others will be right too but it is getting into the right frame of mind is as important as having the heart right. One affects the other and it is my desire to keep my mind clear of anything that does not align with God’s teaching so that I may be a better witness/servant than I have been.

    Thank you for the encouragement and God has strengthened me in that I do not condemn myself for past mistakes but look to a future when I will be free from all condemnation and look forward to living a more Godly life with like minded people like yourself and others here who inspire my journey.

  39. joycemb says:

    Viv I had a friend who struggled as you do with bipolar and this was her favorite scripture, maybe you know it.

    About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”

    This verse carried much meaning for me also when I suffered a breakdown a few years after she died. Even in her own struggle she knew The Lord loved her as do you, and helped me also through a terrible time of disappointment and anger.

    We are all the same in His love.

  40. poohpity says:

    Go into all the world preach/teach the Gospel. That is our great commission. Part of it began in Genesis. It is exciting to share God’s word/Word even though we know that many will be turned away from it or do not know it that does not take away the great joy of sharing the light. There comes a battle in doing so that the spiritual darkness of this world would rather snuff out but as any good soldier follows their commander and chief we press on. Many things of this world can try to take our focus away from God but for believers we ultimately know the battle is the Lord’s and with help we prevail.

  41. poohpity says:

    Since the beginning either in creation or our first time of hearing the Good News knowing how much worth and value we are to the Lord is one of the best gifts to open that never loses it’s meaning. It seems the tighter we cling to that the more worth and value we see in others just like us whether they deserve it or not.

  42. poohpity says:

    I think that since the counseling revolution which brought self awareness the very best gift we can receive this Christ-mas season is God awareness. What does God say about Himself and who you are to Him.

  43. joycemb says:

    Street thinking of you and hope you are well. Asking God to bless you abundantly.

  44. street says:

    joycemb said,”Street I love the way Eugene Peterson writes!”
    i love the way God seals us with the Holy Spirit and will never leave us nor forsake us. His love endures forever.

    it was better that Jesus went away.

    yet i still wait for Christmas.

  45. SFDBWV says:

    So many thoughts, so little time.

    The three Magi who traveled together to find the “New Born King” brought gifts or offerings to the Child. I have read the thinking of others that one of the purposes of these “gifts” were to finance the upcoming trip to Egypt.

    Interesting that there in that story of the Magi we can see the beginnings of the very first “believers” in Jesus to be the “Promised One”. Jew and Gentile alike.

    The gifts they bring pale in comparison to the gift of salvation their acceptance of Jesus gave yet there together we can see God’s attention to detail unfold.

    It is said we can’t out give God, I am a believer in that concept. Whatever is the desire of your heart we are promised that God will provide (Psalms 37:4) and as a bonus we learn His gifts are ever better than we could have even known to ask for (Matthew 7:11). Await your gift with gladness and thanksgiving in your heart.

    39 degrees, overnight rain, quiet now.


  46. poohpity says:

    The only gifts I have to give Jesus is my brokenness, faults, failures, weaknesses, gratitude, time and belief.

  47. oneg2dblu says:

    Unopened Gift… sounds like many peoples bibles today, they have one, but never seem to open it.
    If that is the case, how much good does that unopened gift bring to them?
    To think of our “sin nature” as a gift is to me, quite startling.
    When I’ve heard it said, the real purpose for a gift should be to put the recipient in a position of having no more need of it.
    Like seeing the hungry and then feeding them, or the sick and then healing them, or those who are stumbling in the dark, a giving them a light!
    But, give give them darkness first, so you can then give them a light, seems to me, to be counter productive, absurd, backwards, even corrupt, if your intentions were always that you should ultimately receive their praise.
    Just thinking…

  48. SFDBWV says:

    Some of our friends here like to quote song lyrics as well as poetry, I am one.

    “The Voice of God”
    “I sought to hear the voice of God,
    And climbed the topmost steeple.
    But God declared: “Go down again,
    I dwell among the people.”
    Louis I. Newman

    There are many “gifts” we can offer to our fellow man and in so doing give to God.

    Here is another short poem I hope you all may enjoy.

    “No Truer Word”
    “No truer word, save God’s, was ever spoken,
    Than that the largest heart is soonest broken.”
    Walter Savage Landor


  49. poohpity says:

    Romans 11:32 “32 For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.” We could never know God’s mercy if we had not ever acknowledged we sin so it is a gift because the Lord shined His Light into our hearts but only for those who can see. You are correct Gary when you say, “sounds like many peoples bibles today, they have one, but never seem to open it.” Scripture says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”(Romans 2:1)

  50. poohpity says:

    Under the last topic saled brought up some very thought provoking ideas as she said,”“Rise, the Woman’s conqu’ring seed. Bruise in us the Serpent’s head.”

    “How interesting. I always thought of the Serpent as being outside myself, not inside. I wonder if Wesley was saying that this epic battle takes place inside individuals, or if when he used the phrase ‘in us’ he was referring to the collective group of humanity.”

    From what scripture teaches us Satan is always waging war against us by placing thoughts “in us” to make our time on earth unproductive, constantly reminding us of sin, discouragement, insecurities, fear, having us focus on what we do not have and baiting us towards anger until we are unable to live freely and fully. Being aware of how he works and what Christ has done we can overcome buy using His weapons in this war for our lives to live it abundantly.

  51. poohpity says:

    So maybe some of the unopened gifts we have is the Armor of God.

  52. street says:

    thinking about what poo said,

    before putting on the armor of God renew your mind and put off the old man.

  53. jeff1 says:

    Do you believe Pooh that you can live in this world freely and fully and live for Christ. Look at the missionaries who are in hostile environments and know that living for Christ is all about hostility for younger generations are being brain washed because they are being subjected to false teaching.

    It will get worse as the bible says and while I am free now to worship God there may come a time when I am told to choose God or the power on earth which may be hostile to God.

    Many of the heroes of the bible did not lead lives completely devoted to God they faltered at times but it was what they did in times of trouble that proved their allegiance to God and that means taking a stand against evil in this world.

    Peter is an example of someone who swore he would not deny Christ yet when faced with an angry mob did just that but in the end he stayed faithful.

    Has my faith been tested yet for I feel I have been in God’s protection all along and it has been God who is faithful and I who have not been.

    Whatever my circumstances I must remain faithful for if I am only faithful to God when I am under His protection then it is faith that has not been tested.

    We are from a generation that looked to God, the generation of today look to Science and either Science will prove God or Science and Faith will be at odds.

    I hope and pray that Science proves God and unites against the evils of this world to the greater good of mankind.

  54. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Mart, you wrote:

    “Reading our Story backward, we know that it was the Great Accuser who shows up in the form of a Snake asking beguiling questions about the goodness of our God (Rev 12:9). We also know that the seed of the woman is the Son of Man who will, in infinite wisdom, defeat our enemy through his own judgment.”

    In the Book of Revelation (12:9) John says:
    “The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

    Even though Satan wants to dominate the world, God’s Messiah and His people (the church) may rejoice because the devil’s demise is coming soon. God’s grace limits the evil and terror that Satan can do even now, and at the judgment the Serpent will be cast into the lake of fire.

    The unopened gifts may be that we do not always share our testimony — trusting in the power of His blood — and we do not fully rely upon His protection over our immortal life.

    Agreeing with you over here, Mart, that the revelation we have on this side of the cross of Jesus’ sacrifice is revealing more and more of the goodness of our God.

    Joy at Advent,

  55. poohpity says:

    Yes I do believe we can live freely and fully. Even though there are hostile forces all around it does not have to effect what I believe. Will we still have doubts, uncertainties, struggles, persecution, trials, hate, sorrows? Oh yes because we were promised without a doubt that all those things will still happen. I can allow those things and fear to take over my life or I can allow God to.

    You said you believe you are under God’s protection and as a believer you certainly are without a doubt. But does one choose to live like that(freely/fully) or choose to allow the things of this world to over power oneself by shrinking back, being full of hate and unforgiveness, unproductive.

    I do not think that anyone is able to live this Christian life perfectly and I do not think I have ever insinuated that because I love the Lord and have many failures, faults and weakness but I do not want people to look to me but to the Lord.

    I do not need science to prove anything to me because God has given me faith and sometimes I have to say to Him, “I believe help my unbelief”. Yes there is a lot of false teaching out there but God knows those who are sincerely looking for Him and He is able to get His Word to them one way or another. Yes those that are really close to the Lord and are about doing His business risk life and limb to follow but to them it is worth losing everything.

  56. oneg2dblu says:

    jeff1… Science, being only the works of man to study what already exists, is no measure to prove a God, or to prove there is no God, Who has always existed, and Who created all things.

    Science you see, has to have a starting point to prove any end or a result, which science using only science, can then prove.

    So far what science has done for all its attempts to prove anything, it can not rule out, what our faith has already shown us… there exists a Creator!

  57. oneg2dblu says:

    Her’s another scenario.
    Science alone can not so far prove, that Jesus Christ exists, or that he has been dead, or that is has risen.
    They would need DNA, or a trail of possessions, artifacts, to prove his bloodline, and full origin, beyond hearsay and speculation, and others testimonies and writings, they have no skeleton, no fossil remains, no end result, beyond any doubt tp prove this resurrected being.
    But, by Faith and life experience, we do!

    If I were to put it in a song, I would say, “I serve a risen Savior,” by Albert Henry Ackley, which can certainly speak for me today.

    “He Lives, He Lives.
    You ask me how I know He lives?
    He lives within my heart.”

  58. poohpity says:

    Following what you said Maru, Paul said in Romans 16:20; “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” That is an enemy that while we live in this world seems to be always trying to bruise our heels in one way or another.

    Matthew Henry’s commentary;
    Whatever differs from the sound doctrine of the Scriptures, opens a door to divisions and offenses. If truth be forsaken, unity and peace will not last long. Many call Christ, Master and Lord, who are far from serving him. But they serve their carnal, sensual, worldly interests. They corrupt the head by deceiving the heart; perverting the judgments by winding themselves into the affections. We have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. It has been the common policy of seducers to set upon those who are softened by convictions. A pliable temper is good when under good guidance, otherwise it may be easily led astray. Be so wise as not to be deceived, yet so simple as not to be deceivers. The blessing the apostle expects from God, is victory over Satan. This includes all designs and devices of Satan against souls, to defile, disturb, and destroy them; all his attempts to keep us from the peace of heaven here, and the possession of heaven hereafter. When Satan seems to prevail, and we are ready to give up all as lost, then will the God of peace interpose in our behalf. Hold out therefore, faith and patience, yet a little while. If the grace of Christ be with us, who can prevail against us?

  59. remarutho says:

    Pooh —

    I am liking Henry’s statement about being sure we are under good guidance when we surrender (or not) to the influence we are experiencing. Seems to me there are influences at work in the world that could bring one to the edge of the abyss and whisper, “Step off…” Ugh.

    Where there is not direct communication from the mouth of God to our heart, we must rely on the wisdom of the revealed truth of the Holy Scriptures. In staying close to the Word of God we are always sure of getting good guidance, in my opinion.

    Hoping along with others who have said as much, that we do not leave our Bibles on a shelf or coffee table somewhere in our home! It is the gift that must be opened and used!


  60. joycemb says:

    Maru I just had a conversation yesterday with a professing Christian who does read/study the scriptures daily yet poo poos sin as “well, we’re not home yet”. I was talking to her about one of my sins I struggle with at the time, She said “I do the same thing but I think God just smiles” Confused by her response I asked “aren’t we to confess our sins?” Then she told me to quit preaching to her. Maybe I was being preachy, maybe she just didn’t want to hear conviction? But reading scripture doesn’t always mean a correct interpretation is my thought, Maru how can God smile when we sin, is it because as some think the penalty for sin was paid “once for all”. Yet Paul says we do God injustice by using grace as a get out of jail card, if you will.
    Thanks, Joyce

  61. jeff1 says:

    Gary what are we if we are not Christ’s bloodline for how would I know I am His if not for that bloodline.
    That means Science has the bloodline here on earth but they just do not know it yet, but with God all things are possible.

    God will surprise Science with an unopened gift of His bloodline on earth. What will Science do then?

  62. jeff1 says:

    I was making the point Pooh that I do no see myself brave like many of Jesus’s disciples who came out faithful to the end. I have not had to face any angry mob the way Peter did but I do not know that I would not deny Jesus like Peter did if I were put in those circumstances.

    It seems to me that God understands my weaknesses and may not allow me to be tempted in that way but that does make me feel any better about myself for Peter wept when he failed and I too feel very guilty when I fail to be courageous for God so you see why I say it is God who is faithful to me.

    He does not condemn me for fear of shrinking back or being cowardly and not being a faithful servant but assures me He loves me warts and all.

    He instead strengthens my resolve and assures me that each time I try but fail I will get stronger for as the song goes He is my Forever Friend while many will come and go in my lifetime He will remain.

    Possessions I have many but there are a lot of break ins in my neighbourhood and many have had gifts stolen.

    I know that no one can steal God’s gift from me for it is an inclusive gift as well as a personal one.

  63. oneg2dblu says:

    jeff!… we are speaking about two different world’s here, one is physical with, DNA, and an actual bloodline which is scientifically possible to trace, and the other one is spiritual, which presents similar detectable elements, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, but those things are not physically detectable through any science.

    It is like saying that the placebo affect does not exist, because it only exists in the absence of actual medicinal elements, but, the recipient who does not know this, gets cured by faith in the pill, not in what is actually in the pill, so there is no traceable compound or element responsible.
    We operate under the same type of faith response, because something actually changes in us, just as if we were given a prescription from a pharmacy.

    Spiritually speaking.

  64. jeff1 says:

    It would seem then that trusting God is the only thing to do for there are complex issues like Science, Politics and Religion that complicate this world and it is way above my understanding and I think that is why I believe in trusting God rather than trying to work out what is happening in the world.

    I believe I have made a connection spiritually with God and that puts my mind at ease and I truly believe that what is right for one believer is not necessary right for another.

    I believe that I must get into the mind frame of listening for God alone otherwise I will get confused living in a world which is so diverse today and so many different denominations keep springing up with their own spin on the Gospel.

    So many keep adding or taking away from the truth of the Gospel but I was taught that Christ is all I need and that has not changed since I was a child.

    I do believe that man will keep changing God to there way of thinking but that does not mean that God changes for it seems to me that God know His creation better than His creation knows Him.

  65. remarutho says:

    Seems to me Joyce, that your friend may read the Scriptures, but has yet to allow the Scriptures to read her. By that, I mean that the Scriptures have a definite action in heart and mind when we pray, “Lord, open my heart to what You have for me as I read today.”

    Allowing the words to graze only the mind without “bringing the message home” means perhaps the reader has left the gift unopened. As far as I know, God does not smile upon sin. With those who are not yet fully committed to Him, I believe He lets much go by — in order to bring that one to a fuller understanding of His ways.

    We become more and more acquainted with God’s ways by studying the Word of God. This is my opinion.


    45F and raining here — with local flooding in towns and in the country side.

  66. joycemb says:

    Maru thank you.
    I do agree with your opinion and my own and other’s experiences with a very ‘personal’ God. I’ve known some who have “created” their own god according to their needs, and not according to who He really is. I think there will be some surprises in the end.

    Please pray for my friend everyone; she told me she saw a “spiritist” last month and last night had a visitation in the form of a dead Godly relative who told her she would not like the other side as it wasn’t what they thought it was. Meaning heaven. I will talk to her myself about this but prayers are appreciated. Her name is Sue. Thanks!

  67. remarutho says:

    Prayers going up for Sue this evening, Joyce. Though I do not fully understand how prayer alters or mends things, I trust that the Lord knows what to do to change hearts — most wondrously and completely.

    Sweet rest to all tonight,

  68. street says:

    mart said,”Today, the good seed has come to harvest mixed with every imaginable hybrid.”

    i do remember a parable about a servant asking the owner if the seed was good? the owner said yes, an enemy came and threw bad seed under cover of darkness.

    sure we know where the good seed comes from. our greatest concern should be letting other seed or distractions taking root in our soil.

    we are made from soil or ground that has been cursed. the curse, touches us indirectly giving God room to redeem us. i like it when Jesus said God is able to raise up son’s of abraham from stones. much like replacing a heart of stone in the most rebellious sinner.

    He is a magnificent God.

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