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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

January 24, 2016

Why judges?

Can you imagine having to stand in the heat of the day, while the body responds with rivers of sweat, or the chill of night working by the light of a flickering torch, beating on a rock? Joshua did. He wrote a copy of the law, every word of the law on those stones (Joshua 8:32) while the Children of Israel stood by. All the important people, the elders and the judges on this side and all the regular people like you and me on that side; half in front of Mount Ebal and the other half in front of Mount Gerizim. The mountains were Bald and Rocky respectively. Not only…  ( Click for more )

January 17, 2016

There is a very old joke about scientists who arrogantly believed they could create life. They took a bucket and filled it with dirt, then another bucket and filled it with water, then happily headed for their laboratory. God stopped them in their tracks and said, “You want to create life? Go create your own dirt and water, and start with that.”

God has instilled an instinctive sanctity of life into each person’s conscience. It is part of our character. Yet, humans can “reason” themselves out of it in so many different ways.

Gene therapy and…  ( Click for more )

January 10, 2016

I was hunting through my old columns for the Front Porch Bible study I’ll be leading this coming Wednesday. At the bottom of one of them I said this,” When someone finds your goat and steals it, then first listen to God’s voice as He says, ‘Peace. Be still.’ Say the first ten words of the Lord’s Prayer. Pour out every bit of your ire, bitterness, hurt, unforgiveness, and stubbornness before Him. Every time you think of what has hurt you, pray one of David’s prayers. Trust God to vindicate you. He absolutely will. You may never know…  ( Click for more )

January 3, 2016

I can’t help it. I laugh every time I read Exodus 14:11.

The situation was surely calamitous, no doubt about it. Pharaoh and all his army, chariots, and horses on one side, and on the other a deep, dark, blue sea called the Red Sea on the other. Nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. They were stuck in the middle of a bad situation.

The first thing the Israelites do is turn to Moses, raise their hands in that very Jewish gesture, and say, “What? Are there no graves in Egypt that you must bring us out to the wilderness to die? It would have been better to serve the…  ( Click for more )

December 27, 2015

I had a question years ago concerning the difference between God’s will and His perfect will, or even if there was a difference. I finally grappled to the conclusion that God’s perfect will happened when His children were in perfect obedience to Him. Mary was given a choice whether to be used of God to bear His Son. She gently agreed regardless of the personal cost to her. “Let it be as you say,” she told the Angel of the Lord. Jesus’ father, Joseph, is another flawless example of this kind of obedience. If he had not immediately obeyed the…  ( Click for more )

December 20, 2015

Notice how packages have the ability to create excitement? Even when we know what’s in it, a package can bring a smile to your face. You ordered it; you asked for special delivery, and then it arrives. Slicing into the wrapping, taking the prize out of the box, and putting the thing to use makes the day seem brighter somehow. Then comes a season of giving and receiving that creates more than just a little excitement produced by one little package.

Christmas is definitely the most wonderful time of the year. I love the fragrance of crisp air and (when it is cold enough…  ( Click for more )

December 13, 2015

Notice how packages have the ability to create excitement? Even when we know what’s in it, a package can bring a smile to your face. You ordered it; you asked for special delivery, and then it arrives. Slicing into the wrapping, taking the prize out of the box, and putting the thing to use makes the day seem brighter somehow. Then comes a season of giving and receiving that creates more than just a little excitement produced by one little package.

Christmas is definitely the most wonderful time of the year. I love the fragrance of crisp air and (when it is cold…  ( Click for more )

November 29, 2015

We are buried under Black Friday ads to spend, spend, spend, so we can save, save, save. I want to say, “Bah! Humbug!” Not because I’ve been watching Christmas movies on TV, but because I’m told that:

I’m not happy without a new car for Christmas.

I’m not happy without soft skin, hair without gray strands, and a healthy cat eating the right food.

I’m not happy because I need a contraption to take the calluses off my feet.

I’m not glad because I have not purchased piles of gold toward my retirement, and I don’t…  ( Click for more )

November 22, 2015

Do you ever get a sore soul?

I mean soreness like a sore tooth in your spirit. The feeling just washes through, leaving a feeling of dread or bleakness. I usually get this feeling when something bad is going to happen. This feeling could develop because the Holy Spirit is grieved for you. God speaks to believers in many different ways. When friends and/or fellow believers speak out or do things to harm you, a child of the living God, that deeply grieves the Holy Spirit.

I'm not talking about when believers have sinned, and there is a feeling of guilt. That is something…  ( Click for more )

November 15, 2015

Job 11:12 For an empty-headed man will be wise when a wild donkey's colt is born a man.

Can't you just hear the exasperation? I can and it makes me laugh. It reminds me of Solomon saying "Living with a contentious woman is like incessant, dripping rain." (Loose paraphrase).

And here is another one, Proverbs 11:22 As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion. That is so true and said with such a twist of humor I can't help but laugh at the image it draws into focus.

And this one, Proverbs 21:9 Better to dwell in…  ( Click for more )

November 8, 2015

In the list of the Fruit of the Spirit we see kindness is listed in the center: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

You see how the first four are basically states of being? They are similar to the leaves of a tree.

God is love, we are loved, we love others. Because of that, we experience joy, peace and patience. We then exhibit kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The first four well up inside us from God Himself through the Holy Spirit's indwelling. They are our sustenance, they gather oxygen…  ( Click for more )

October 25, 2015

What are your first impressions of the first parable found in Matthew 25? What does it say to your heart?

Just as Jesus spoke to the people of His day through parables to teach them, God speaks to us through these same parables. Sometimes they made no sense to the disciples, so they asked Jesus to explain. Sometimes they made perfect sense to the people of that day, but because today we are not as familiar with first century society, these parables don’t make sense to us.

The first thing to take note of is that Jesus is comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to 10 virgins,…  ( Click for more )

I know you’ve discovered that because of the Hebrew way of telling stories and describing events a good Bible study will encompass many different passages to get the whole tapestry of the story. We did this last week when we looked at Mark and Luke as well to see what the disciples told Jesus about the Temple.

This week we’ll take a side trip to Luke to understand the difference among the signs Jesus was talking about. History tells us that Jerusalem fell in 70 AD, and that it was General Titus who destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem. But the disciples didn’t…  ( Click for more )

Many scholars agree that when Jesus left the Temple this time, He took the Shechinah with Him out of it. The glory of the Lord never shimmered in its courts and halls again. Compare a few verses with this interpretation:

Matthew 23:38 Behold, "your house is left to you desolate."

Jeremiah 22:5 But if you will not hear these Words, I swear by Myself, says Jehovah, that this house shall become a ruin.

Ezekiel 11:23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.

Anyway,…  ( Click for more )

On Tuesday morning after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey amid all the hosannas, Jesus delivers a rebuke that is so piercing and so strong the thrust of it will be felt at the Great White Throne judgment by hypocrites of the eons. Jesus warns the people of just who these religious leaders are—hypocrites.

We hear the term, but do we really know what a hypocrite is? Can a Christian be a hypocrite? Will a hypocrite ever be in Heaven?

The Bible has a lot to say about hypocrites. If you look below, you can see a partial word study of the word done by R.A. Torrey.…  ( Click for more )

How often have you faced some wicked trap from a fellow worker or sly person seeking to ensnare you in your own words? I imagine it didn’t take but a few seconds for you to think of a time when that happened.

Years ago, I faced a horrid time when one person hated everything I was doing to bring economic growth to a poverty stricken area. She contrived some allegations against me manufacturing evidence that caused my bosses to call a meeting to consider my termination. I objected that I had no clue as to what these “problems” were and that every accused…  ( Click for more )

September 20, 2015

There are many who sit in the pews of churches that think they are saved, but in truth are not possessors of Jesus. These are the ones who are tasting what a true relationship with Jesus might be like, yet are not buying into or fully drinking the living water of the one true God. It will be a rude awakening for them when the Great Snatch happens. This isn’t about hidden sin. It is about uncertainty of salvation, and about no complete commitment with heart on a platter to God through Jesus His son.

There are those Christians who fully believe in Jesus and are not…  ( Click for more )

September 13, 2015

Jesus taught with many parables. Some of them were directed at the scribes and Pharisees as rebukes as in the one about the man with two sons. The man told the first son to go work in the vineyard, but the son said, “No, I won’t.” Then later he thought better of it and went to work as his father asked. The second son said, “Yes, I will.” But he did not go.

Jesus then asked, “Which of the two did the father’s will?”

They said, “The first son.”

This was the correct answer. Jesus highlighted it by saying,…  ( Click for more )

September 6, 2015

God provided the disciples with great power to further the building of His church. We have all the power given to the disciples because Jesus is sitting by the right hand of the Father; we are in His service. He told them they could do the same as He did. Is there any power greater than that exhibited by raising Jesus from the dead?

If you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do the miracle of the fig tree, but even if you should say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will be so. And all things, whatever you may ask in prayer, believing,…  ( Click for more )

August 30, 2015

Jesus had a huge problem with the moneychangers because they were sticklers for Law rather than ministers to the people’s needs. When those scribes and Pharisees asked, “By what authority do you do these things?” Jesus uses the same source as He did with Satan… “It is written.” Reformation is always right, when laws corrupted by humankind are reduced to their primitive institution; in other words, going back to basics of the Ten Commandments, or rather to God’s literal words. In this case, to God’s decree that His house is…  ( Click for more )

We have a gorgeous water oak tree in the back yard. Its leaves shade my bedroom and the den from the sun's hot rays. I treasure this tree because life flits around it and lives in it. Birds, squirrels, and even three turtles flit, romp, and waddle around its branches and its roots. My cat loves to watch the bird show every morning. Its been dropping limbs. We thought it might need some trimming and pruning, so we called a tree doctor. He told us it was rotten clear through and would topple over in the next big wind. It would have to come down. I won't go into the exorbitant…  ( Click for more )

August 16, 2015

There is a story told of a missionary and his wife who finally retired.

They happened to be on the same airplane as a famous sports star. The sports star got off the plane first. Many people cheered him as he strode into the crowd. They were patting his back, congratulating him on his perfect game won, and clapping in exuberance. The band played. The mayor gave a speech. People lifted him up on their shoulders, and carried him to get his baggage.

The missionary and his wife carried their own baggage. Hailed a cab. Paid their own cab fare, and carried their own bags up…  ( Click for more )

August 9, 2015

The Kingdom of Grace is like a man who went to gather laborers for his vineyard. If we dig a little deeper, we'll see what Jesus is describing according to Robert Hawker:

Kingdom of Heaven = Kingdom of Grace, not the Kingdom of Glory after the end of ages

The Owner = God in Heaven

The vineyard = the Church

The day of hire = earthly life

The workers hired = all those called and chosen by God to enter into Grace

The different hours = the different seasons, ages of the world, and ages of life

The marketplace = the world

The wages = the gift of God.…  ( Click for more )

Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" Matthew 19:16

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Mark 10:17

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Luke 18:18

Looking at each different passage we find several things about this man.

1. He is young.

2. He is a ruler (whether religious…  ( Click for more )

There are several points to ponder in this chapter in Matthew.

Once Jesus left Galilee, He never came back except to just pass through the region (Luke 17:11). This is where He grew up; this is where His ministry began (Cana); this is where He was rejected first (Nazareth). A prophet is rarely recognized among his own people (John 1:46). Is this because he is better remembered as the snot-nosed toddler, or is it because people remember his childish escapades?

Jesus was fully divine from the very beginning, therefore from the time He was able to demonstrate the difference…  ( Click for more )

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