Faith

Bible Origin #3

bible

Origin of the Bible Series Continues

 

If you’ve not yet read the introductory and succeeding posts on Bible Origin, I would urge you to do so that you may be up to speed on what we hope to accomplish. I believe this to be an important endeavor in the age we live. People need to know that they can trust the bible we have today.

 

Our next question to address focuses on the authors themselves.

 

 

  1. Were the authors of the bible trustworthy men?

 

 

This one should be quite easy. The biblical authors claimed they received their messages from God. Now, if the biblical writers were known perjurers, there would be no reason to accept their claim. But they were honest men of integrity, which lends support to the credibility of their claim of having been inspired by God. Their honesty and integrity is evident by the following things.

 

First, they taught the highest standard of ethics, including the obligation to always tell the truth: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor.” (Eph. 4:25; see also Ex. 20:16; Ps. 15:2; Rev. 22:15).

 

Second, the writers of the Bible paid a high price for their truthfulness. For example, Peter and the eleven apostles (Acts 5), as well as Paul (Acts 28), were all imprisoned. Most were eventually martyred for their witness for Christ (2 Timothy 4:6-8; 2 Peter 1:14). Indeed, being faithful, even to the point of death, was an earmark of early Christian conviction (Revelation 2:10).

People sometimes die for what they believe to be true, yet is not true. But how many would be willing to die for what they know to be false? Yet the biblical witnesses died for the truth they proclaimed, believing that their message had come from God. While not being proof, such evidence is an indication that the Bible is what the biblical writers claimed it to be: the Word of God.

 

 

  1. 3. The Amazing Unity of the Bible

 

The Bible is amazing in its unity amid vast diversity (see post #1 on Origin of the Bible). Even though the Bible was composed by many persons of vast diversity it displays mind boggling unity and has definitive continuity. The Bible, with even greater diversity in the topics it addresses, is the world’s perennial best seller and is sought by multiplied millions as the solution to humanity’s spiritual problems. It alone, of all books known to humankind, needs God, or Deity to account for its amazing unity in the face of such great diversity.

 

 

  1. We would have received accurate copies of the original manuscripts (God would preserve His book).

 scroll

The role of the Scribe in ancient times when transcribing scripture required perfection in their work. The lofty standard to which they were held demanded that a slight deviation, even such as accidentally misspelling a word, would require they discard the entire document no matter how far they’d gotten, and begin again from scratch.

It was in 1948 that, what are now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, were discovered by Bedouin shepherds in a cave near Qumran. That’s located 13 miles east Of Jerusalem and sits 1300 feet below sea level. Understandably, archaeologists and biblical treasure hunters swooped in, and further searches netted 10 more groups of scrolls hidden in ten other nearby caves. In all, they found between 825 to 870 separate scrolls, both biblical and non biblical records. These fragments of scripture, reassembled, contained huge portions of every single Old Testament book of the bible with the exception of the book of Esther. Now that more of the fragmented scrolls have been assembled there are 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms. The scrolls had been hidden and lost for 2000 years.

Meticulously, archaeologists, scientists, historians and theologians have studied these documents and took great care in comparing them to the bible we have today.  What did the scholars find when they compared the Qumran manuscripts with the present day copies? Millar Burrows, who wrote a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls, said, “It is a matter of wonder that through such a long period of time, the text underwent so little alteration.” (Geisler, 1986, 366-367).

Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer wrote concerning two copies of the book of Isaiah found in the caves, they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. (Geisler, 1986, 367).

So we can say with assurance that those who copied the text of the books of the Old Testament did so with great care. As a bit of a theologian myself, I was keenly interested to learn that prophecies by Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel, which are not found in the Bible, are written in the Scrolls. I’m chomping at the bit to read them, though God chose to not preserve those prophesies in His book, deeming them unnecessary to complete His how-to of life for us.

 

There are a plethora of other evidences, all of which point to the fact that the bible has been carefully preserved, and I believe it was watched over by the same one who superintended its writing: God. But there is still much to discuss, and a ship load of other evidences that also show the bible as being the work of the Divine, and so for the sake of brevity we’ll leave off here. Until the next time, may you know the God of the bible, and experience His powerful presence in your life, through faith in His Son, Christ Jesus.

God bless You.

 

 

 

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No Toxins Please

At present I am dealing with unexpected difficulties which preclude my studies. My wife is currently in the hospital with a deadly infection and your prayers for her are appreciated. We will continue with the Origin of the Bible series, but for the moment that’s on hold. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Meanwhile, I am posting another piece from my old files, though I had hoped to include more information… Perhaps this will suffice for now.

Detoxification 

Do you ever have sluggish days when you’re tired and feel like you have no energy?  Perhaps you suffer from dry skin? Maybe you swell up and retain fluids? These can serve as warning signs that our blood is full of toxins and/or that we are lacking certain vitamins and other essential nutrients.

Living in the 21st century our bodies will naturally pick up quite a few unnatural substances called “toxins.” This is especially so for those who do not take care to know what is in the foods (or nonfoods) they eat. These toxins weaken our body’s defense system against; diseases, viruses and infections, etc, and they put undue strain on our internal organs. Many of these toxins are carcinogenic. In short, they can really wreak havoc with our health.

That’s why it’s a good idea to detoxify our bodies regularly, using the formula’s God has made available to us throughout the earth’s highly complex biosphere. Here’s some that are easy to obtain.

 

  • Dandelion
  • Red Clover
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Burdock Root
  • Cilantro
  • Ground Ivy
  • Milk Thistle
  • Neem

 

Utilizing natural cleansing agents to aid your liver and kidneys in doing their jobs is a great idea. We know that these two organs filter and clean our blood. When these organs fail, such as suffering impaired renal function for example, we could have helped lift the burden off of these vital organs. Here’s some things that can assist us in doing that very thing. First we’ll list some foods.

 

  • Helpful fruits: lemon, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, etc…
  • Vegetables that detoxify our blood: garlic, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, alfalfa sprouts, soy, etc…

 

Here’s a few plants which I highly recommend that can be made into detoxing teas.

Aloe—Burdock Root—Hyssop—Ginko Biloba—Elderflower

 

While the health of the physical body remains vital, it is the mind and the heart which requires detoxification most often. These are the parts God looks at. Jesus often pinpoints the heart as the area where sin takes up residence. And He indicates the heart is the most important aspect of our being. It determines who we are and what we are like and represents the core of our being.

God’s word reveals the sinfulness of every human heart. Through the irises of faith, the bible acts as a cleansing tonic, washing away our fallacious thinking while renewing our minds. It leads us to the cure for every spiritual ailment.

The best habit a soul can develop is to meet with the Lord every morning for prayer and bible reading. As we confess our sins of the previous days, our consciences are cleansed, and God forgives us through faith in Jesus—this cleanses our entire being.

Yes, life on planet earth really contaminates us with everything that is toxic to our bodies and spirits. All sorts of dirt crowds into the hothouses of our steamy little minds, and that’s unhealthy. Let’s get cleaned up for the day. God Bless You!

 

 

 

 

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Fear of Weakness

GraciePictured above is my 10 pound Morkie, “Gracie”. She has a very big, courageous & loving heart.

 

Asthenophobia is the fear of weakness, and it is a widespread psychological ailment which causes great harm to those who are affected by its false notions.

Before we proceed, I hope to assure each reader that this is an interim post. We will continue the series on the “Origin of the Bible.” But it is very lengthy, and so I’m offering other stuff (technical term?☺) in between the origin posts.

Wimpy Dogs

It took a few times to work it out, but eventually the realization struck that I was gaining discernment into some people’s psychological and emotional states by how they reacted to various types of dogs. There have been nearly a dozen instances. Like when a man showed disdain for a very small dog that was quivering. He so despised the poor little thing for its weakness, that it became evident something more was in play than simply a preference for more stalwart pets.  People possessing a character opposed to his, usually act in a caring manner—more inclined to protect the helpless little creature, even comfort it.

I supposed correctly that this man has a character flaw, and yet the root from which it thrives is where his psyche’ breaks down. He views weak areas in himself. Anytime he sees someone, even an animal that resembles what he believes to be inside himself—he wants to turn away, and if he cannot do so, he lashes out. He has a deep sense of inadequacy. Unable to love himself, he cannot love something that reminds him of his own weakness, ugliness or flaw. But this is on a subconscious level. The man has no idea that his dislike of things that appear weak stems from his low self-esteem.

There are millions of us out here that tend to automatically dislike such a man, and dismiss him from any future contact. But knowledge always changes our actions. Love changes our responses. God changes the way we interact with the world around us through the wisdom He teaches. Compassion is not only for the weak, but for all, even for those we think do not deserve it. Ah, I believe we’re now talking about mercy, which is grown from love.

Please don’t take this as some sort of formula to psychoanalyze a person. There are several reasons why someone may respond in a similar manner to a tiny dog that trembles at shadows. We have healthy young men who are still trying to convince themselves they are real men. Walking down the sidewalk with a cute, but wimpy little dog is just not masculine. At this stage of their growth they avoid anything that might be construed as feminine. Toy dogs are for sissies, is the mindset. For such a young fellow, under the right circumstances his thinking will be outgrown, unless there comes a fracture in his identity, and then he may become like the first man.

When we begin to understand the difficulties people face on the inside of themselves, we can better perceive what is needed for their hearts to heal. My own response to the same dog was the opposite of that man I spoke of. The furry little ball of cuteness that he hated so much, drew me right to it. I picked him up and spoke softly to him, stroking its downy soft fur. By the way, I believe myself to be excedingly masculine. Mine was similar to a paternal reaction to the dog, because it was afraid, and yes, I began to not like that man at all. But then, the Lord began to show me this stuff, and everything turned around. Instead of disliking the man I began to pity him more than I did the dog. The unfortunate guy was miserable. Some past trauma had robbed him of a deep need of the heart: the ability to like and love himself.

Every good counselor, psychologist or social worker can tell you, “You cannot love others until you can love yourself.” Yes, there’s a lesser type of love we can have if we do not like who we are (by the way, that’s our cue to change). But it’s far from the kind of love God wants to make us capable of employing. When we don’t like ourselves, in every single one of our relationships we will eventually come to a barrier standing in the path of loving as we should.

Consider for a moment Jesus’ words “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We cannot love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. We’re not talking about egotism, or being prideful and arrogant. On the contrary, every soul was created by God, in His own image, and has tremendous value. We were created to love God and to love one another. When we don’t like who we are, we should go to God and ask Him to help us change. As we communicate with God we begin to understand how much He loves us, and that’s a huge boost to our sense of self-worth.

The world is filled with deluded people, not knowing their own worth, and the world perpetuates their fallacious thinking by putting them down ever further. Let’s not be a part of that cycle, creating injured souls. We are to be a part of God’s construction crew, building people up, rather than on the devil’s demolition squad, tearing them down. Be nice. Be loving and kind. Be the light of truth in this dark world where there’s already far too much hatred. It’s not easy sometimes, but that’s why we must also encourage one another as we work towards the time when hate shall be no more.

God Bless You!

With Eternity in View,

Sheldon

 

 

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Bible Origin

bible

The author of these posts made a mistake in attempting to open the topic from a neutral stance, and the Lord has pointed out that fact.  Then, God used a comment left on this post as confirmation. Firstly, the author cannot be unbiased on this issue, as his life has often been occupied with studying all of these things, and the evidence is overwhelming. Secondly, objections from unbelievers can be so multitudinous that opening a forum for debate through blog posts would be foolhardy. There are nearly 2000 years worth of that sort of thing already. It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last that this writer had an idea that was less than wonderful. He has no problem with admitting, accepting and proclaiming his fallibilities. Thirdly, he believes the bible when it states: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1st Corinthians 2:14

The tremendous gift of life afforded through FAITH in the message of the bible, which is consummated in Christ Jesus of Nazareth, cannot be believed by those without faith, no matter how much evidence is heaped upon them. Salvation is by grace through FAITH, and so is a correct understanding of God and His works. The Lord also led this author to read again Romans 1:17-32, further confirming that enough evidence has already been presented to expound the truth of the God of the Bible. But that does not preclude a Christian from doing his job of sowing the seed of the Gospel of Christ. So we will continue, only now, with the understanding that this study is slanted towards truth as it has been superlatively proven to the author of this post.

 

Let’s get right to it and tackle the first question of the previous post. In way of refreshing our memories we are attempting to discover if the bible holds up under certain things that would logically be true if the bible really is God’s word.

  1. Is it historically accurate?

International Students Inc. queried leading archaeologists, both secular and believing ones. They write the following.

“The history given in the Bible has been confirmed by archaeology to a remarkable degree,” reports noted archaeologist Nelson Glueck.

“It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible.” (Emphasis mine) Glueck, Nelson. Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev. (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Cudahy, 1959).

There have been hundreds of people over the years that have set out to disprove the historicity of the bible. A few times it looked as though they had something, but then…

  1. There has been a better than good reason why a reference appeared to critics as not fitting the findings.
  2. They misunderstood the people group, the geological location, or the context of what the bible recorded.
  3. Better research by secular historians and archaeologists, as well as by proponents of the bible, disproved their claims of biblical error every time.

The Bible Is Historically Accurate.

The Bible is not merely a book containing theological teachings that are unrelated to history, but the theological statements of Scripture are closely linked to historical events. For example, Paul maintained that if Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead was not an historical fact, then our faith is futile (1 Cor. 15:17). Scriptural characters, like Paul, were not a group of gullible religious people who were ready to believe anything that came along.

Admittedly, there is such a plethora of false information out there that it can become an arduous task to disseminate the truth of what actually happened in history. Thankfully, we have extra biblical records that meticulous, secular historians have kept. Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Israel, Greece and more, all had good historians. Much of the rich and interesting Egyptian history was destroyed by Amenhotep (I think it was Amenhotep the 1st but my memory is a bit hazy there.) His reign as Pharaoh ended the “Shepherd Kings” era. The Shepherd kings weren’t even Egyptian, but had, never-the-less, come to reign as Pharaohs over Egypt. Amenhotep wanted to destroy all records of them, even striking their names from off obelisks and monuments. Much more of Egyptian history is currently being discovered today, and all of it matches up perfectly with bible history!

Archaeologist Millar Burrows notes that more than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine.

William Ramsay is one such example of an archaeologist who went from believing that the Bible contained fabricated myths to believing that the Bible was not only accurate historically but that it was the Word of God.

From a collaborative publication by International Students Inc, we have this report:

Earlier in his life Ramsay had been influenced by a liberal theology, which taught that the writers of the Bible were more interested in promoting a biased theological perspective than in accurately recording history. In the course of his studies, however, Ramsay was surprised to find extensive archaeological evidence for the accuracy of the biblical narratives.

One thing that impressed Ramsay about Luke, the writer of Acts, was his accuracy with respect to ostensibly insignificant details. For example, Luke accurately names the rulers of Thessalonica politrarchs, Gallio the Proconsul of Achaea, the official in Ephesus, a temple warden, the governor of Cyprus a proconsul and the chief official in Malta: The first man of the island.. Such titles have since been confirmed in numerous Greek and Latin inscriptions.

What Ramsay began to realize was that the Bible was not mythical, but that it was a document that recorded history with extreme accuracy. He wrote, “Luke is an historian of the first rank.” (Wilson, 114) And if the Bible was accurate in its historical details, then he considered there to be a good chance that the biblical authors could be trusted to accurately relate the spiritual significance of the historical events as well. (End citation)

The author of this post is not a noted historian, and yet his research has proven beyond any shadow of doubt that the bible is pristine in its recording of historical events, from cover to cover. He has a lifetime collection of records and reports from professionals in the fields of history and archaeology. Further, he tried his best to find ANYTHING that might prove that his belief in the Bible was wrong. He has not yet found any objections to the historicity of the Bible that have stood up under testing.

 

Have a Supremely Blessed Day!

 

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Reach Greater Heights

Ever notice how there always seems to be someone who is dead set on making you look bad? Are many criticisms spewed in your direction?

Nobody ever said that serving the Lord was going to be easy. Following Jesus is not for wimps. In fact, we are told that we will suffer and will be tested. As children of God’s soul garden He uses opposition to our cause in bringing about spiritual growth, enabling us to mature in faith, in knowledge, and in our obedience to truth.

Often I’ve talked about growing in grace and advancing in faith as climbing a spiritual mountain. That’s one of the reasons I named my devotional book: “Meet Him on the Mountain”. A few decades ago when I read Hannah Hurnard’s allegory “Hinds Feet on High Places,” it had a profound impact upon my own walk with Jesus. Perhaps that’s where I get the analogy from.

After you’ve been working at this arduous ascent for a goodly amount of time, it becomes easier to perceive God’s wisdom at work, and to see things from His point of view. Our spirits begin to make greater leaps. Our goals become more lucid. It’s exciting. And it is awesomely wondrous when we perceive ourselves morphing into a new kind of person as a result of God’s Spirit of power at work in us, using His written words. Without the Lord, we never would have been capable of becoming what we are at present. Neither do we cease to improve, nor arrive at perfection during this life below. The crux of this knowledge is that the Holy Spirit releases power into our lives as a direct result of our obedient faith.

The following is just one example of the many ways our responses to others undergo drastic and often surprising changes whenever we are actively growing in grace. Here is a fact that should be easy for all to agree upon.

A person of depth has no need to convince others of his or her significance.

Yes, that person who has been a thorn in your side feels as though he or she is not sufficiently significant.

But then, having a sense of significance is a legitimate need of the human phyche—everyone needs to be needed. When someone’s self-worth plummets, they tend to become hyper critical of others. They will usually target specific people who make the sufferer feel as if they are nearly worthless—an awful psychological pain. We don’t mean to make them feel that way, never-the-less, the Jesus in us outshines them, making them feel less than. So, before you dismiss that abrasive person who often may lash out at you and put you down, realize what it is they need. And then do your best to provide it. I think that’s what Jesus would do.

But you better get prayed up first. Put on the tenderness of compassion and remember to take your brain along too, because you’re going to need discernment. Don’t forget to suit up in the armor of God as you come alongside them and minister to that need.

Yes, it can seem like wasted effort. But what if it’s not? Actually, there is no such thing as wasted effort when that effort is exerted on behalf of Christ.

We have but one life and too soon it will pass—only what’s done for Christ will last.

May God’s favor rest upon you. Have a great day.

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Introducing God

It’s an astonishing, yet elating discovery: God in all His glory and holiness is intimately interested in having a relationship with every one of His children.

I was fortunate enough to know a fair bit about God before actually meeting Him. But I had a good deal of fallacious thinking about Him too. We all do.  God overlooks the invariable false understandings people have of Him, at first. Faithfully, He will bring us to a lucid enough understanding where we’ll confidently be able to proclaim, “I know God—I have a personal relationship with Him!”

Many people construe the personal aspect of a relationship with the Lord to delude themselves into thinking they have a special and unique means of connecting with Him. That’s simply not true. Often we hear people saying things like: “Me and Jesus, we’ve got our own thing going.” It’s even in a song that’s actually sung in worship services. The next clause proclaims, “Me-n-Jesus, we got it all worked out.” They will believe that lie, thinking that each of us has our own formula for coming into the presence of the Most High. God Himself, however, is the one who ordains how we are to approach and make contact with Him, as well as how to unite with Him.

It is only through faith and trust in Jesus, His Son, that we can meet the righteous requirement of entering into His glorious presence. Faith and our submissive dependence on Christ are unwaveringly requisite, that we may be with Him.

Granted, once we unite with God our relationship with Him becomes very personal and there will be very sweet things that only you and He share together. For example, I myself have a pact with God. On His part, I am irrevocably saved, and on my part, I will never surrender to defeat in attempting to be perfectly righteous and sinless in the life I live, as impossible as that may be. As individuals, we may have widely diverse assignments and various paths to walk. One may be ordained to suffer great pain and loss for the cause of Christ, while another may be held up before the world as a powerfully used vessel for propagating the gospel and leading many souls across the threshold of life. The way into that relationship, however, remains a stringently singular path.

Even when time ends and eternity is ushered in, I don’t think anyone will know ALL there is to know about God: He’s simply too big and complex. He does, however, reveal the most important aspects of His being, which are essential to know if we are to interact with Him and become like Him in character. Here’s a good place to start: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

In the stillness of an empty mind, my soul inhaled the merciful goodness of God, as He revealed Himself in response to faith. I was silent before Him. The first towering wave rushed from His throne and washed over me—I found myself imbued with an awareness of His sovereignty over all things, most importantly over me. He is to be exalted, worshipped and praised. And suddenly I was acutely aware that the Lord’s omniscience causes Him to know my thoughts even before I think them. King David noted the same thing: “Before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely.Psalm 139:4
The second wave came as what I call a thought-sensation, which this time communicated His pure holiness and righteousness. This, His glory, caused me to tremble in fright, because I am not perfectly holy. Yet within that same wave came the torrent of His love, expressing the merciful grace He had already lavished upon you and me. My quaking limbs were stilled. Fear was replaced with elation and praise! I had humbled myself, and so He lifted me up and gave me His joy and peace! (1 Peter 5:6)

God demands to be recognized as the awesome God He is. The bible indicates that we are to fear God in over one hundred and twenty five verses scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments. This goes far beyond the greatest respect and honor that we would show to someone here on earth. With God we move into reverent worship and awe. Don’t fret, His mighty love casts out our fear, that we may have fellowship with Him, unafraid.

And yet, before we simply sashay up and talk to God, we’d best be aware of who and what we’re talking to. Our lives depend upon it. Often I’ve heard Christians speak of Jesus as if he were simply a bosom buddy, and that is reflected in the lives they live, as well as in their prayers. They don’t seem to realize who it is they are speaking with. I’ll be the first to admit that I was the same way in my Christian infancy. And God winked at my immature view of theology. But I don’t think any of the Apostles looked at their relationship with Christ that way. Sure, He is a friend who will never leave or forsake us. He demonstrated the tender compassion and mercy of God throughout His ministry, until He finally manifested the unrivaled love of the Father by willingly dying a horrible death on the cross, that we might again have a close relationship with our glorious God. But He is still God, and we are but children in His sight, and quite limited in our ability to wrap our heads around His majestic being. But one day we too shall receive glorified bodies.

Jesus is a friend who will never leave or forsake us. The Lord’s tenderness and compassion were clearly demonstrated until His ultimate display of God’s awesome love was manifested on the cross

To have a good relationship with God, and gain His favor and blessings upon our lives, there are some things we must first be aware of. We have to know how we are to approach Him. Let’s list a few facts.

  1. He is Omnipotent, meaning all powerful.
  2. God is Omniscient—He Knows all things, including all possibilities.
  3. Our Heavenly Father is Omnipresent: in all places at the same time.
  4. The Lord is infinite.
  5. God is eternal.
  6. He is Spirit
  7. The Most High is immutable: unchanging.
  8. Our Creator is not bound by the laws of physics, as He is the one who ordained them and did the math that is involved. He can operate outside of the laws He put into motion. If you need examples, do a study on all of Jesus’ miracles and see how each miracle He performed defies a particular law of science. Jesus was revealing that He is indeed the Creator of the cosmos, and: “The Great I Am”.
  9. God created time, and He is outside of the time He created, yet He often works with, and within time. He made it for a purpose.

And all that is just for starters.

Everything the Bible says about God is but half of what we learn once we actually come to know Him. That’s what I’ve been working at for the past forty years, and I still have a long ways to go. No, I’m not slow—He is just that vast and complex. We won’t know Him fully until eternity, and even then I’m not certain we will know ALL about Him. He’s a very big God!

Lately it’s gotten to the point that I even rejoice when God disciplines me. It reminds me of when my son was very young. Whenever he felt he was not getting enough attention, he’d do something to get my attention, like drinking Tabasco sauce from off of the refrigerator door, or pouring a cup of dirt onto the dining room table. It’s having the attention of our Fathers that feels so good. Even negative attention gives us the assurance that someone greater than ourselves loves us, and is in control.

But I’m talking about attention from a HOLY GOD. Many volumes cannot fully convey what holiness actually is, and what it looks like. My next book is on holiness and how it pertains to our sanctification, but about the time I believe I’ve grasped deep spiritual insight to pass along to others, I discover higher, more elevated planes of knowledge. The more I learn the more I discover that I have yet to learn. When we receive a solid vision in our minds of who God is, and what He is, it is simply amazing that He would stoop so low as to be intimate with you and me.

When we come to God’s character, His nature and His complex personality we do not have anything on earth to compare Him to. Let’s continue our previous list.

  1. God is pure holiness. The visible quality of His Shekinah Glory can actually be seen. But then you’d have no retinas left. The brightest, whitest light you’ve ever seen pales in comparison to God’s visual appearance—He dwarfs the sun’s lumens. In fact, the bible teaches that a man cannot see God and live. His holiness would automatically incinerate us—He’s that great.
  2. The Lord Most High sets the perfect standard for righteousness. He is flawless.
  3. God is LOVE!

While this is far from an exhaustive list, each of the above descriptions should be pondered individually if we hope to fully understand the importance of knowing these things about God, before we can actually come to know Him personally.

With that being the case, God reveals Himself to us incrementally. And the further we go with Him the more wondrous and amazing things about Himself He reveals to us.

God is so great that humbling ourselves before Him should be automatic. If we have properly meditated on His properties and virtues then our humility when approaching God should come quite naturally. Just listen to the Beloved Apostle John’s testimony about the time He envisioned our Savior, Christ Jesus in His glorified form. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Revelation 1:17) What does that speak to your heart about the greatness and the glory of our God?

God called Job a righteous man. But look at this righteous man’s response when our Holy God spoke to Him. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” Job 40:4 Then, Job found the boldness to speak just a bit more, which is a good eye opener for us. He said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  By the way, the eyes Job was talking about were the eyes of faith. Hebrews talks about this kind of faith in chapter eleven. I like the part where it reports that Moses “Saw Him who is invisible”. The only way to see the invisible is through the eyes of faith. Believe me when I say, “Along with great faith comes spiritual eyes which demand that we conform to the new didactic and divergent sights. They are highly illuminating vistas. The information the Lord offers us is gained only through a close personal relationship with Christ Jesus. (Yes, He is also our friend, but let’s not forget His exalted position.)

I garnered a good rule of thumb from a High Priest in Israel’s history. Even though Eli failed to restrain his son’s from doing wickedness and desecrating a rite God had established, and was punished for it, He had some words of wisdom to pass along.

When young Samuel heard the Lord calling to Him twice, Eli gave great advice.

 

“So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9

When we come before the throne of God we need to allow Him to be in charge. God will hear our petitions or whatever is on our hearts. He wants to help us with that, but first things first. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” That is complete submission to God, recognizing who He is. Allow the Lord to set the conversation, and when it comes time to speak what you have to say to Him, or questions you hope to ask, you will know.

Okay, my coffee is worn off—time for a fresh pot. Blessings!

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Be Prepared

be-prepared

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” General Sun Tzu

I keep a slogan hung on the wall above my desk where each morning it reminds me of how important it is to start the day out right. It is the Latin slogan “Carpe Diem,” which means “Seize the Day.”

Though I’ve not yet reached dinosaur status, I’m far enough along to note how the longer one lives the more time seems to accelerate. The exceptional brevity of this life is especially noticeable when we juxtaposition it against eternity. There’s a sense of urgency to make the best use of the smidgen of time we’ve been allotted to prepare for the real life that is yet to come.

There have been days when I felt so rushed to get somewhere, or to accomplish what needed to be done that I neglected my quiet time with God. I was just now mentally comparing that forgetfulness with taking off on 200 mile drive and forgetting to fuel up the car. Those days never went the way they should have. I was not plugged into my source for all things needed, and my focus was all wrong, because I began thinking horizontally instead of vertically. It doesn’t take very many days like that to understand the seriousness of approaching every day under God’s direction, with eternity in mind.

Living in a sin cursed world makes it so easy to forget who we are in Christ Jesus. I need to prepare for whatever each day holds by first consulting the one who already knows what lies ahead.  Whenever I start out right I am more joyful, at peace and confident. I get more accomplished, and can see great purpose and significance in everything He leads me to do. It’s the best way to really make the day count for something. Even if it’s your job to scrub toilets, you can do the best job possible and make them shine, because you are doing it for the Lord. Whether I am teaching a class, building something, or simply cleaning up my dog’s poop off the side of the road, it is for Jesus, and that gives it importance. What a tremendous difference our perspective makes! When I remember to pull into the spiritual fueling station of God’s word, I am more productive—I can really seize the day!

One of the things I’m reminded of each morning as I read my Bible and pray, meditating and listening to God, is that I am a child of a king. We will one day reign with Him. We don’t have to fear what may lie ahead. Besides, we know there’s a subtle and powerful adversary out there just waiting to try and trip us up. Since we know it’s coming, it is prudent for us to prepare to face temptation. Only a fool would go into battle against a Goliath like Satan without careful preparation, having some form of protection, and a weapon.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” SunTzu

In Ephesians 6 we are told of the gear we’ll need to do battle in the spiritual sense. Yes, you’ve heard of this before. It’s called “The Armor of God”. We first show up and then suit up. Verse 11 tells us: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Let’s briefly review each piece of armor. And please remember that if any one of these are missing, that’s the precise place where you will be attacked. The devil is a seasoned warrior—he knows how to take advantage of the slightest weak area in our defenses.

The belt of truth. God’s word, the Bible is our sure source of truth. When we are grounded and founded in His truth we don’t have to fear. It is difficult to deceive someone when they know the truth. We ourselves do not deceive; instead we reflect the light of God’s glorious truth.

The breastplate of righteousness Once Christ justifies us in the sight of God and His righteousness has been imputed unto us, we guard our righteous status. We do not return to the filthy sinful ways of the world that we have been cleansed from. This requires remaining in constant contact with the water of God’s word which cleanses us daily. We need that daily cleansing because we are going to make mistakes.

Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, We must always be ready to share with others how they too can be reconciled unto God. We must carry the Gospel message of salvation to the world. We must be able to share with others the scriptures which pertain to how we are saved.

 

Shield of faith, Faith is the catalyst that activates God’s power in our lives. Power to resist temptations and power to live a joyful and peace filled life. Faith is our shield against the attacks of evil: Believing completely and then acting based upon that belief.

The helmet of salvation, We must first be saved, establishing our citizenship in the Kingdom of God, which includes a myriad of benefits. We must confess our need for God’s grace and receive the gift of salvation by placing our faith in Christ Jesus and in His work at Calvary and at the grave. Our response to salvation is then obedience to Christ (We did say He is now our ‘Lord’, right?). We do so out of love and appreciation.

The sword of the Spirit, The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, alive and active. It is sharper than any two edged sword. It penetrates even to the dividing of the soul and spirit, the joints and marrow, it judges (discerns) the thoughts, intentions and attitudes of our heart. God’s word is a very powerful weapon against evil, in defending righteousness. But never use it against God’s own people. We learn to skillfully use God’s word to build people up. (But there’s also a time to tear down.)

We must carry God’s word in our hearts and minds if we hope to be victorious over the adversary’s schemes. Every day we must fine tune our focus in the light of a close relationship with Jesus Christ. The more time we spend with God, seeking His presence, the more power we assimilate into our lives. God is all-powerful. We need that power in our lives. It is a rough, tough world out there. But we don’t have to face it alone. Here’s a handy checklist.

  1. How is my focus today?
  2. Are my spiritual eyes open and perceptive to the underlying causes and effects going on around me, and within me?
  3. Did I spend some quality time with my sweet Lord today?
  4. Did I read my Bible and take it into my heart?
  5. Did I speak with Him and seek His counsel, His wisdom, and His purpose for me today?
  6. Did I start out clean and fresh, asking God to forgive my sins of yesterday?

If I’ve done all these I’m ready to:

CARPE DIEM – SIEZE THE DAY!

 

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Hearing God’s Voice

This painting by Winslow Homer stirs up some great memories. Homer was a man who like me was enamored with all things outdoors.

rapids

Whether rappelling off cliffs, shooting rapids in a canoe, or performing perilous covert missions, I’ve tasted adrenaline more times than I can count.  But there’s no doubt as to the one activity that remains the grandest and most exciting adventure that continues to enrich me. Call me a thrill seeker, an adrenaline junkie or simply an adventurer, the labels do not matter to me.

So far I’ve had a life filled with wild, wonderful and inspiring adventures, and have traveled considerably. Some of the sights would scare the fleas right off of a hound dog, such as staring down the wrong end of a high caliber gun, or chasing a gang of robbers through the back alleys of Dongducheon Korea. Then there were the vistas where you feel privileged just to be there and take it all in. At times I was melted into a humble state of awe at the genius of God’s creative handiwork. One of my favorite discoveries was an underground river in Utah shooting out of the side of a horseshoe shaped canyon to form an above ground river far below.

But beyond question, the experience that was the most sensational for me came for the first time 29 years ago. It was quite unexpected how that simply communicating with God would be such a transformative and powerful thing. And it has been copiously repeated ever since then. Oh I had talked to God before then, but never felt I had the connection to really hear from Him. Yet, all it took was a full surrender to the Lord, and to capitulate with all my heart. That may sound like a cliché Christianese statement. But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Yes, life is complicated.

There is one point that I hope to stress, and that is: If you’ve never been absolutely certain that God was talking to you—intimately interacting with you, then you simply have not yet lived. It’s still difficult for me to get my head around the fact that the Creator of this vast universe cares enough about every little individual person that He wants to have a close relationship with us. He gives life to the fullest!

Jesus said it in these words: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b (KJV).

The New Living Translation puts it in today’s language: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Ninety percent of the time God communicates to us He speaks through His word, the bible. But then He confirms our understanding of His answers, through circumstances, and often through others. Whenever I’m truly in tune with God’s will, the answer comes in all three ways: first through the bible, then things happen in a way that illustrates that truth, and then some person actually speaks that truth without me saying anything to them about it.

Few are the times I have actually heard God’s voice in my heart and mind—twice for sure. But that was not so pleasant, because both of those times were in a negative. The first time was an ultimatum that literally scared me straight. My whole body was quaking. I was all set to commit an embarrassing sin when I heard the Spirit speak a bible verse. The words could not have come any more clearly: “Choose ye this day whom you shall serve.” I hadn’t read that verse in years, but was familiar with it as words God had spoken to Israel through Joshua. Another time it was simply one word: “Stop!”

I had planned to do my best to describe those moments spent with the Master, and how spectacular communicating with God can be, and how wonderful and loved it makes me feel. But there is no describing it. You’ll just have to experience that for yourself.

Allow me to caution you, however, that Christ is the sweetest addiction. It is strange though, how easy it is to get out of the habit of meeting with Jesus everyday for that fix. And the reason is that there are spiritual forces of wickedness at work. They hope to break our good daily habit of spending intimate times with God. When I skip just one day, the following day I seem to forget how awesome it is, and before I know it, it’s been a week. The power, joy and peace we gain by being filled with the Spirit every day can disappear in a flash, like a soap bubble in the sun, as soon as there’s a break in that habit.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” We feed on Him. Just as we must feed our bodies every day we must also feed our spirits, lest they atrophy and starve to death. Christ is our spiritual sustenance, and we cannot benefit from a relationship with Jesus unless we are constantly nurturing our intimacy with Him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Instantly, as soon as I cease relying on Him, and I don’t consult Him on every decision, that’s precisely what I produce: “Nothing”.  That is, nothing of eternal value. We must remain in Him and the only way to do that is to maintain an attitude of prayer—maintain an open line of communication and fellowship with the Lord. We talk about meeting with Him in the mornings. But we are a part of Him and should not have to MEET with Him, as we’ve never left His presence! As for coming to Him in the mornings, this is to search for sins of the previous day, and confess them in order to cleanse our consciences, and keep our relationship good and strong. And this morning tryst is also for checking in with the boss for specific works He has for us to do each day. Perhaps there’s something we need an extra jolt of power for that day. But most importantly it is to ensure that we remain in a state of constant surrender and submission to our glorious benefactor and God.

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38

I hope you can see what makes life such an exciting and never ending adventure. It is remaining in Christ and having our spiritual senses awakened to perceive the Lord’s communication to us as individuals. But He also speaks to us corporately.  “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ascending Holiness Mountain

 

mount

A little wooden cross glued to a magnet kept wise old adages posted on my refrigerator door where I’d be sure to see them often. Both the words that were written there and the cross which secured them were mementos of things I needed to remember. The symbol was of who I am in Christ, since He’s paid the penalty for me by His death. But since He rose to life on the third day, I am guaranteed to one day rise as well. I must rise to walk in a new life today, since my old one has passed away.

The pinned words were admonitions I should heed. Wise people never forget these words once they ponder their truth.

Sow a thought and reap and act

Sow an act and reap a habit

Sow a habit and reap a character

Sow a character and reap your destiny.

Though Jesus has paid the entire penalty for my sin debt once and for all time, it is still my responsibility to cooperate with the sanctification process. I am being conformed to the holy image of Christ. I must submit to God, and obey His word and His Spirit who was given to me upon my rebirth into eternal life.

My character will be shaped by the thoughts that are allowed to occupy space in my mind. There are many things in the world that will stimulate thoughts, good and bad. This dictates that I must place a guard over what I see and hear. Whether we admit it or not, everything in life has an effect upon us. Another posted adage read as follows.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The places I go have much to do with what I will see and hear. I must choose carefully where I go. The entertainment and recreation I select has a tremendous impact upon the sights and sounds I will experience, so those must also be carefully scrutinized.

Thoughts come from out of my heart, but there’s also thoughts that are suggested to me, both good and bad. Some are from God, and some from the world, and also some from the enemy of my soul. I must discern and distinguish the source of each thought, and choose to dwell upon those from God, and from the goodness He is growing in my heart. I must immediately reject all other suggestions.

My eternity is at stake

So there’s grave choices I must make

Selfishly, I could just live for today

Ignoring the coming judgment day

But life in Jesus grows sweeter with time

So joyfully I work, holiness mountain to climb.

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How To Be Sure Of Heaven

heaven

The question weighs heavy on the hearts of many people: “Am I really saved? If I died today or Jesus returns today, will I go to heaven?”

 

Romans 10: 9-10 promises that if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead that we will be saved.

 

Someone may ask, “But preacher, what about Matthew 7: 21?”  There Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

One verse says I just believe and confess, and the other states that I must also do the will of the Father. Is this a contradiction? What is the will of the Father?

 

During Jesus’ earthly ministry the people asked him an important question which weighed upon their hearts, and I believe the same question weighs upon the hearts of people today. They asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  What does God want from us? How can we please Him, and how can we have His favor on our lives? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29

God would have us believe on His Son Jesus as our Christ (Savior). That is His desire for you. But we must understand what kind of belief this is that God requires. The two verses, Romans 19:13 and Matthew 7:21 are saying the same thing. They actually expound and clarify each other.

Listen to this little illustration of a woman who told her husband every single morning before he and she both left for work, “I love you.” Yet, the wife was having an affair with another man from her job. Hmm, not very loving if you ask me.

Considering that love is an action, rather than just a feeling, she was not at all acting in love toward her husband. She did not really love him. The same is true of belief. If we truly believe, we will show it by our actions.

 

If we really love God, we will want to do His will. We will follow Jesus and obey God’s word to the best of our ability—this is what it means to believe. The kind of faith that saves us is the faith that follows Jesus, acting upon what our intellect believes to be true. This is true saving belief, better known as faith.

 

Very graciously, God has made provision for the times we slip-up and make mistakes, or fall to a temptation that we regret. 1st John 1:9 is a wonderful and a comforting promise. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. God is so very merciful, and He knows how difficult it is for us to be perfect. But here’s the big difference between a non-saved person sinning and a saved person sinning. When a saved person sins they hate what they have done. We hate sin just as God does. We desire to be pure, even though we cannot achieve it on our own. God sees our hearts, and He knows the ones who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 

 

We believe we are forgiven, because He said we are forgiven. This is a part of believing on Jesus. God is always faithful to His word. We confess that we are sinners and need a Savior. After salvation, we confess our sins to maintain a good relationship with the Lord, and to cleanse our consciences. We turn away from those sins instead of running towards them. In other words, we repent. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. We also believe that God is working in our hearts to make those errors fewer and fewer as we mature in faith. It is God’s Spirit working inside you, reproducing holiness and creating the beauty of Jesus inside you! It is a growing process. The bible says that one day the glory that is being created in us will one day be revealed. (That’s in Romans chapter 8)

God bestows salvation based upon our faith. Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

 

AND THIS SAVING FAITH IS BELIEF IN ACTION!

 

We have such a gloriously wonderful salvation! It is a free gift of God’s truly amazing grace in Christ Jesus. Ours is a relationship of love, of trusting God, and of an intense desire to obey Him, because of our love for Him. Our first act of obedience to God is to be Baptized into Christ and into His church. We will want to be with other people who are saved. God has designed our spiritual growth around the structure of our spiritual family on earth, in the church. We need each other to help us grow, just as with any family. Eternal life and all the riches of Christ are ours through faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God!

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10: 13

 

Pray this prayer with me:

Father God, please reveal your word to my understanding. Thank you for calling me to faith in Christ. I believe in your Son Jesus and the work He did by dying on the cross to take the penalty for my sin. Then he rose from the dead, guaranteeing that I too will be raised up to everlasting life. Please help me to live in a way that reflects my belief in you, my trust in you, and my love for you. Thank you for saving me and giving me this wonderful hope and peace. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

 

Allow God to speak to your heart today as you read Matthew 7: 13-29. God Bless You!

 

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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