Apple of His Eye

Zechariah 2:8 (Partial)
… for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:

INFORMATION
The term “apple of the eye” refers to something or someone that is cherished above everything else. In the context of this verse, the prophet it making it clear to the nation of Israel just how precious they are to God. Christians today can also apply this verse to ourselves. God confirms this in the New Testament when he says

1 Peter 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

We are God’s people. Jesus confirms this as well in John 15:15 when he tells us that we are his friends (“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…”).

The significance and impact of these few words cannot be underestimated. Imagine what it means to offend an almighty, all powerful, all knowing God. Imagine the way that this almighty God looks upon those who take advantage of his people and his friends. Imagine the way this all powerful God considers the acts of people who would abuse, neglect or persecute His chosen friends! We know that God is a loving and forgiving God who seeks to bring all men to himself. We also know, that he is a good father who protects his children. This verse is a warning and a comfort.
As Christians this thought encourages us to be on our guard with how we treat other people. Starting with those in our own family, moving out to those in our church, and then to all people, everywhere. We must treat everyone, everywhere, with respect and dignity regarding their potential relationship with God as more important than their relationship with us. When people offend us, we need to carefully consider how we respond. When we are angry, we need to take pause before acting. Are we about to injure someone who God considers to be “the apple of his eye”? Caution is certainly called for out of respect for God and out of respect for his justice.

As parents we need to carefully consider how we raise our children and how we treat them. They are God’s, not ours. We are temporary stewards and guardians for these people who have a more perfect parent in the Almighty God of the universe. As children we need to carefully consider how we treat our brothers and sisters and parents for the same reason. As we look around us, if we view everyone in the world as potentially being one of God’s chosen people, we will surely change our attitudes and perspectives. While we know that some are not his friends, we cannot know who God has chosen. Even the vilest of men can be saved and what a person does today does not reflect what they will do once the Savior touches them.
To men who would abuse others, particularly God’s people, this is the sternest of warnings. God is watching.

WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
Let this be a commitment amongst ourselves, to ourselves and to those around us. Let us endeavor to set aside prejudices and anger and see those around us through the light of hope. The hope that they too are counted among the friends of Jesus!

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Think on these things

Every day, we are confronted with a wide variety of advertisements, entertainments, labors, issues, challenges and opportunities that are vying for our attention. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are also encouraged, advised and prodded to focus our attention on Jesus and His Word, the Bible. There is a tremendous lack of deep Bible knowledge in many of us, including myself. This lack of knowledge is due to a lack of focus and dedication to reading God’s word, a lack of deep, heart felt prayer and a lack of godly meditation. We should carve out time each day to read God’s word, pray and meditate on his Word.

Here are a few ideas to help build out this time:

1) Start simple. Sign up for a daily Bible verse service that is delivered to your SmartPhone. There are texting based services available as well as SmartPhone apps, email services, etc. These services will present us with a daily opportunity to read a tiny morsel from God’s Word. Not much, but an improvement over nothing. There are several services that can do this for you for free. Here are two: http://www.bible-sms.com/ and http://www.thedailybibleverse.org/.

2) Locate a few simple Bible verses that you find encouraging. BibleGateway has a great list of the top 100 most reviewed Bible Verses. (https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2009/05/the-100-most-read-bible-verses-at-biblegatewaycom/). This is a good starting point. Print these out and put them near your bed, or on your refrigerator, or somewhere else prominent. Read one or two each day.

3) Purchase or print a few Bible passages in print form that you find attractive or meaningful. Hang them in your home. As you walk past this print each morning or afternoon, stop and read it until you can recite it without looking.

4) Pray each morning before climbing out of bed.

5) Pray each evening before climbing into bed.

6) Install an audio Bible application on your SmartPhone. There are several freely available audio Bibles. Listen to them on your drive to work or school. Listen to them at times that work for you. Listen to this instead of music one day a week.

7) Obtain a few inexpensive copies of the Bible. The DollarTree in my area often carries copies for just $1. The books are not the highest quality, but the words are the same. You can also print out the book of Psalms fairly easily as well. Place them in key areas in your home such as in the bathroom or near the coffee maker or any other place you tend to spend a bit of time each day.

7) Start reading one chapter of the book of Psalms a day. Most of these are very short and can be read in a couple minutes. Read them in the bathroom or while waiting for coffee to brew.

8) When you are ready, advance to reading 5 chapters of Psalms a day.

After some time of incorporating these techniques into your life (all or in part), you may discover that there is more time to read the Bible than you realized.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Proverbs 4:20-22
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

Isaiah 26:3
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

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New Content Posted

Today I posted 10 new visual aids in the Powerful Visual Learning section. As always, the images are available to anyone for use in the service of the Lord. Various image sizes are provided along with printable PDF downloads.

The 10 posted today include:
The Lord will destroy what you have made (Jehosophat aligned himself with Ahaziah).

Build Altars

God is a Consuming Fire

Seasons

Rainbows

You will recognize them by their fruit

We trust in the name of the Lord

Pride goes before destruction

The Romans Road

Comfort My People

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What does it mean to be righteous?

Matthew 5:20
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

INFORMATION
The word “righteous” has at least two distinct meanings which we come across. The first definition is one we may think of most often and is exemplified by what Webster’s dictionary has to say. Webster’s first definition for the word righteous is “morally good: following religious or moral laws”. The second definition is perhaps spoken of less often and is a Biblical, godly definition of being righteous. That could be condensed to “The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word. Thus, God’s laws, as given in the Bible, both describe His own character and constitute the plumb line by which He measures human righteousness.” (Ref: http://www.gotquestions.org/righteousness.html)
WOE! That second definition does not sound at all like something we could ascribe to a person. The first definition seems like something we can attain, something we can reach for. However, the second definition effectively forbids us from ever being righteous as we can never have the attributes of God effectively within ourselves. However, that second definition is what we are held to in God’s eyes. For us to enter into heaven, we must be righteous and our righteousness must exceed that of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. The first definition may have applied to them; they had good outward behavior, they followed moral laws outwardly, but all of their good works were not enough. On the inside, their spirit was dead, they were not righteous in God’s eyes.
How, then, can we be righteous in God’s eyes? How can we be righteous? The answer is decisively simple and all too often something we avoid and detest. The answer is that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, who prays for forgiveness of their sins and seeks his forgiveness will be saved. Being saved is to be made righteous before God.
Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Christ’s life and death was not like any other, ever! His life was a gift; God in flesh living among us. His death was a payment; he paid for the sins of all who believe. Christ does not end there! Christ was resurrected from death and the grave. He is the true King of the universe and He is the way of ultimate life, of eternal life. Through Christ, we can be righteous in God’s eyes. To be righteous is to be forgiven.

WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
It is the desire of my heart that all my family would come to a complete and full knowledge of Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we can experience a full life. It may not be a life free of pain or suffering, but it can be a life filled with an unspeakable joy that cannot be quenched. A hope of the future that cannot be found anywhere else. We can work as hard as we want, we can try to be good as much as we want, and all of that is fine and good and even desirable. However, if we do not know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord, our personal Savior, our personal friend, we will never know righteousness and we will not experience life everlasting. Let us all pray for one another that we may all have the greatest gift that has ever been.

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Jesus Saw One Man

John 5:5 & part of 6
“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him… ”

INFORMATION
This particular passage retells the account of Jesus’ encounter with an invalid man who was among many other men and women seeking to be healed from their disorders. While there is much to be learned from the entirety of this event, we are focusing on four powerful words. “Jesus saw” from verse 6 and “One man” from verse 5. Among many people, Jesus observed one man.
In many places in the Bible we find the phrase “a certain man”. Personally, I find this phrase to be one of the most heart-warming and endearing combination of words found in God’s Word. Jesus sees us as individuals, not just as a large group of people. Unlike worldly leaders, both religious and secular, Jesus knows each and every one of his people. There are several verses that offer us this great comfort.

    Matthew 26:18 “…go into the city to a certain man and say to him…”
    John 11:1 “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany…”
    Luke 10:30 “…A certain man went down from Jerusalem…”

These people were not ordinary or unimportant people, these are certain people, a special people who are of great interest to God. God has no doubt about who his people are. John 10 tells us this…

    John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me”

The Lord knows us! He knows us by our name and knows us more intimately than we know ourselves or even our mothers know us. Worldly leaders will sometimes refer to “their people” and they may even deeply care for “their people”, but they do not know each one of their people as an individual. Jesus does!
Even among a vast crowd of other people, we are unique, special and recognized by the Almighty Creator of the universe! Even lost among the stars of the universe, we are known. Anytime we feel lonely or unimportant, we should remember that we are not just anybody, we are a certain people.

WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
Rejoice! We are known by the Savior of all mankind! Rejoice! Listen for the voice of the One who speaks to us in the quiet moments. Listen to the voice of the One whose voice is unique and set apart from every other one we ever hear or consider. The Lord speaks to his sheep and we hear him. One day will come when we hear a call of action. Respond and obey. If we live long enough, we will see a day when we hear the Lord call us to meet him. Listen for His voice! If the Lord does not feel close at hand, then seek him earnestly and he will be found. When he is found, we will hear his voice and know that we are with him. Rejoice!

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Inspirational Imagery

This evening I posted 20 new images within a new section of the site for inspirational imagery. Each image is paired with a theme and key Bible verses. These images are well suited to be desktop wall papers, calendars or other printed materials. High quality PDFs are provided for all images along with various sizes of each image ready to use as desktop wall papers on the most common screen resolutions.

You can access these images by clicking here.

Here is a sample image from this new section:

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Catching up

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I don’t know if this is the norm for everyone, but I work in cycles. I will work on writing articles, creating imagery, researching new visualizations, new topics, etc. and will do so intensely for a few weeks and then will become distracted and do something else for a while. I am back into a creation cycle now and have been trying to sustain it. One thing that annoys me at the moment is that it takes too much work to take a written article or visualization and upload it to the site so that it is ready completely. My primary objective with the devotionals and learning materials has always been to help my own family. This site, and the books and other social media sites, are an extension of that, but are not my primary objective. I am a software developer by trade so this makes me want to create a tool or system to streamline the process. So, that is what I will be working on for the next few days. Hopefully, once I have a tool setup, I will post quite a few new articles and visuals. At the moment, I have perhaps 30 more visuals to add and maybe 10 written articles.

I just returned home from a three day weekend vacation to Washington DC. My wife, three daughters and I had a great time visiting the monuments and a few of the museums. We live in a small, primarily poorer town so my kids were somewhat taken aback by the city. They have never been to a truly large city like New York or LA or Atlanta so they do not have much to compare to. Our national monuments are beautiful and I think at least two of my daughters were able to take them in and internalize what they mean, what they stand for. My youngest daughter – not so much. 🙂 She would much rather have been riding horses and was sure to share that idea with us on many occasions.

More soon…

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Letters from Home

letters_from_home

Recently I stumbled upon the website BibleVersesAbout.org and left impressed. Neil Goodman is the webmaster of the site and has published a book called “Letters from Home”. After reading several of the posts on the website, I purchased a copy of the book. I usually read books about business, software development and Bible commentaries (and the Bible itself, of-course). This little book was a unique reading experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. Mr. Goodman takes an approach that I have never come across from other authors. The book is amazingly easy to read. Mr. Goodman pulls together verses throughout the Bible and paraphrases them in a clever, yet Bible honoring manner. The result is that the reader feels like God is writing a personal letter just to them. I would encourage any believer to pick up a copy of this book and read it themselves. His website is also a great resource for believers. Take a look for yourself.

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Wrong PDF uploaded

I realized this morning that the PDF version of the Family Bible Study Guide book on this site was not correct. I am not sure how I managed to upload the wrong file but I re-uploaded the correct file this morning. If anyone has downloaded the PDF, you were likely disappointed in what you found. Sorry about that. The correct PDF was uploaded today. Click here to obtain the corrected PDF.

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Even the dogs eat crumbs from the table

I posted a new visual aid today. Take a look:

Click the image, or click here.

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