Praying for the School Equipment

August 16, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I was recently asked to pray a back-to-school prayer for students, parents, teachers, and staff:

Our Father, we ask You to sanctify us with Your Truth as we prepare for a new school year, recognizing that Your Word is Truth. Please equip us through Your revealed Word, and help us not to rely on vain imaginations.

Equip us to witness, to disciple other believers, to counsel with those who have questions or are facing difficult circumstances.

Equip us to love and serve each other and all those you place in our paths. Equip us to worship You, to understand and apply Scripture. Make us walk in Truth, both generally, and in all the various details that apply to the classrooms and our homes.

Please equip us to stand against Satan, and to hold fast to sound doctrine.

In the name of Christ Jesus our Lord I pray. Amen.

Dissembling Hearts

August 12, 2019 at 10:29 am | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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Jeremiah Chapter 40 marks the transition from the pre-exilic to the post-exilic period in Israel’s history. Nebuchadnezzar, for reasons that are not fully revealed to us, ordered that Jermiah be treated kindly. However, through some mistake, Jeremiah wound up being placed in chains with the other people who were being taken captive, and transported to Ramah, sort of a staging area for the final deportation to Babylon.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.

Jeremiah 40:1

The captain of the Babylonian guard recognized that this was contrary to Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, and gave Jeremiah a choice between going to Babylon and living a fairly comfortable life under Nebuchadnezzar’s protection, or remaining behind, trying to carve out a life in the ruins, with the people who were remaining in Jerusalem.

And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.

Jeremiah 40:4

Of course, for Jeremiah, it had never been about personal survival, nor did he really have a vested interest in making sure that Jerusalem itself remained inhabited. For him, it had always been about the people’s repentance and turning back to God. God’s people in Babylon would have other prophets, such as Ezekiel and Daniel, to minister to them. Jeremiah probably sensed that he would be more needed if he stayed in Jerusalem.

Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.

Jeremiah 40:6

Gedaliah’s family had a connection with Jeremiah throughout his ministry. Nebuchadnezzar saw fit to appoint him as governor over the ruined city of Jerusalem. He seems to have been level-headed and wise concerning his counsel to the people at the outset of the Babylonian occupation. Knowing that there would be no wheat harvest, he made sure they would harvest the summer fruits and grapes.

Even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much.

Jeremiah 40:12

His problems started, though, when the Ammonites, one of the conspirator-nations in the old plot against Babylon, used a man name Ishmael to plot the assassination of Gedaliah. Johanan, one of his loyal officers, discovered this plot, and offered to kill Ishmael before Ishmael could kill Gedaliah.

Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it: wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.

Jeremiah 40:15-16

Gedaliah did not believe him, and this ultimately would turn out to be his downfall.

Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah. Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

Jeremiah 41:1-2

Johanan’s warning proved to be correct.

But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon.

Jeremiah 41:11-12

Johanan rescued the captives of Ishmael, although Ishmael escaped. The people were glad not to be taken to Ammon, but there was a potential problem with going back to Jerusalem.

Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land.

Jeremiah 41:18

Ishmael had killed Nebuchadnezzar’s appointed governor, Gedaliah, and some of the soldiers that were with him. Johanan feared the reprisals of the Babylonians, who might just decide that it wasn’t worth it having to deal with these Jews and their attempts at treachery, and he thought going to Egypt might be another alternative, so they decided to go see Jeremiah, and to ask him to get a word from God about what they should do.

And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.

Jeremiah 42:2-3

Jeremiah wanted to help them, so he agreed that he would talk to the Lord on their behalf, but he warned them that, whatever God gave him, that’s what they would get from him – nothing held back. In response, they made a big show out of swearing that, if God would deign to give them instructions, they would surely be faithful to follow them.

Here is what God told Jeremiah to tell them:

And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.

Jeremiah 42:9-11

Of course, God knew it was unlikely that they would do what He told them to do, so He also sent a warning about what would happen if they didn’t, and, of course (remember, these were the “bad figs”), they broke their promise, and decided they would take their chances in Egypt. God’s people, in times of trouble in the Old Testament, seemed to have a weird, almost fetishistic fascination with Egypt, which is why Egypt is a picture of what the “world” is to New Testament Christians.

For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it. And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.

Jeremiah 42:20-22

Maintaining a Clean and Sensitive Conscience

August 7, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In II Corinthians we find the Apostle Paul having come through a series of crises, including the problem of having to see that one of the church members at Corinth – possibly a leader – was properly disciplined. HOWEVER:

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12

As Paul often did, he was able to look within himself to find the strength and the encouragement not to give up. For, unlike many people, when Paul looked within himself he found God empowering him, reassuring him, and comforting him. When we “look” outward, we must use our eyes or at least our physical senses, but with what do we look inward? Our conscience.

Con = with; science = knowledge (to know). Our conscience is not really Jiminy Cricket (from Pinocchio) or the little angel that sits on your shoulder countering a little devil that wants you to do something naughty. The conscience is what we “know with.” It is given by God to every person so that everyone innately knows there is a moral law and moral Lawgiver. It does give us a sense of approval when we do what is right, and it does accuse us or give us a sense of guilt when we do wrong. Even lost people are aware of a sense of right and wrong – objectively. These ideas may be reinforced or corroded by society or experience, but they are hardwired into the human nature (as part of being stamped with the image of God). If a person tells you that right and wrong are subjective or the product of evolution, he or she will quickly fall into severe inconsistency the moment someone snatches her purse or steals his wallet. He/she will quickly become concerned for selfish reasons, but also offended at recognized injustice. No sane person hesitates to call what happened in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or cases of child abuse “evil.”

The conscience is what we “know with,” but it can become calloused and less sensitive – and dirty – which dulls our inward sense of right and wrong. Therefore, it is important to keep our conscience sensitive and clean.

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

Acts 24:16

1. Simplicity will help to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12

Your ministry in the name of Jesus Christ does not have to be overly complex, nor do all of your evangelistic witnessing enounters: “I was lost and Jesus saved me. I want Him to save you too.”

Sin complicates our lives, when the Lord would be more honored if we kept things simple. Manipulative bait and switch strategies, duplicity, and scheming are techniques sometimes used to attempt to bring people to Jesus, but they do not honor Him the way the simplicity of the Gospel does, and they cause us to forget that He is really the Savior – the One Who seeks and saves, and the One Who speaks and reveals unvarnished truth.

For we write none other things unto you, that what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are our’s in the day of the Lord Jesus.

II Corinthians 1:13-14

2. Submission to God’s will helps to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?

II Corinthians 1:15-17

The church members at Corinth were upset that Paul’s plans had changed, but he had not carelessly or willfully changed his plans or broken any promises. Circumstances had forced his schedule to change. He had qualified his stated commitment with the understanding that he would do what he planned to do, “Lord willing.”

For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

I Corinthians 16:7

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

James 4:13-16

Saying that we intend to do somthing, “Lord willing,” should not be superstition. It should be a serious recognition that God is sovereignly in control of all circumstances, and does not consult with our schedule when carrying out His eternal decrees.

When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

II Corinthians 1:17-20

3. The Holy Spirit helps to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

The Holy Spirit will give us the proper motive if we are faced with the need to change our plans. Only He gives us the assurance that we truly belong to God.

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

II Corinthians 1:21-22

Only the Holy Spirit can motivate us to serve others with pure motives.

Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

II Corinthians 1:23-24

For by faith we stand, but we stand leaning on Him. By faith we try to keep our consciences clean and sensitive, and we lean fully on the Lord.

A Marvelous Work?

August 5, 2019 at 10:38 am | Posted in Isaiah, Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: In Isaiah 29:14 the marvelous work that God promised to do for His people seems to be something bad, instead of something good like revival. Why would we want something bad, or what am I missing?

Answer: The word “marvelous” is a little tricky because in modern English it typically means something that is delightful, or “wonderful” in a positive sense. In the Bible it can mean that, too, but its literal meaning has to do with something that causes people to stop dead in their tracks and “marvel” at something. To stand silently still and gaze with amazement. Or to gasp with surprise that something so extraordinary is happening. So, depending on the context, it can be something marvelously beneficial and joyful (Psalm 17:7), or it can mean something marvelously horrific (Daniel 11:36). And, yes, you are correct that the “marvelous” thing God is saying that He will do in Isaiah 29 is that He will bring judgment and destruction upon the people of Jerusalem because of their spiritual hypocrisy and their failure to heed the warnings of His prophets. The “marvelous” thing about it is the extreme nature of it. God would use Godless heathen nations and armies to punish His Own people and to destroy His holy city (29:1-9)! He would even take away their ability to hear and understand His Own Word (29:18), and their ability to see the truth (29:11)! It would be horrendously marvelous, not happily marvelous. So, in that sense, I would like to experience a spiritual revival in my heart, home, church family, community, and nation that would PREVENT this type of “marvelous” work, not the continued apathy and hypocrisy which would bring it to pass. I think that may be what you are getting at with your question.

Witnesses to the Light

August 1, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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At the Feast of Tabernacles the Lord Jesus preached and taught among the people, while dealing at the same time with the Pharisees’ attempts to have a death warrant executed against Him. It’s not hard to imagine the drama and suspense that surrounded Him during those seven or eight days. Everything He said must have carried tremendous impact (John 7:46). The feast culminated with a big ceremony in which a pitcher of water was poured out and a big lampstand was lit. Jesus used these poignant signs to describe Himself as the Living Water (John 7:37-38) and the Light of the World.

How bright or how dark has your life been lately? Are you seeing clearly as you walk with the Savior, or are you stumbling about, alternately depressed, disoriented, discombobulated, dumbfounded, and discouraged, as if your spouse rearranged the furniture in your house without telling you just before the electricity went out?

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12 (emphasis added)

This is the second of the recognized I AM statements in John. It hearkens back to John 1, which teaches us that Jesus is the life-giving and truth-revealing light of men. People prefer darkness, though, because their deeds are evil. They are willing to put up with blindness and deceit if it allows them enjoy the delusion that their sin is hidden – or at least not so bad as to offend an all-seeing God.

The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

John 8:13

The Pharisees tried a different tack, using the Old Testament law requirement of two or three witnesses to testify in agreement in order to establish the truth claims of a legal dispute. Jesus would answer them based on their assertion, but pause for a moment to consider how offensive it is to accuse the Truth Himself of being a liar.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

John 8:14

Jesus could call the greatest witness of all: the One Who commissioned Him to come here from Heaven and speak the Truth.

And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

John 8:16-19

No doubt they did not perceive the capital F that Jesus meant when He said “Father.” They counted Joseph of Nazareth as totally unworthy of supporting such a claim to Deity, and they would have had a point, except Jesus had His real Father in mind.

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

John 8:21

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 8:24

Jesus did not sugarcoat the consequences of rejecting His claims and the grace He offered, but this confirms that they were not on the same page:

They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

John 8:27

Jesus had the ultimate authority to back up His claims.

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him.

John 8:28-30

Misplaced Fear

July 29, 2019 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Luke 12:1

Popularity can be as dangerous as ostracism. As Christians, we must beware of becoming people-pleasers.

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

Luke 12:2-4

The likelihood of death is not ususally the motivation for freedom from fear, but Jesus recognized that fear of God is the beginning of true wisdom.

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Luke 12:5

Having dealt with the hypocrites, Jesus warned His disciples not to become hypocrites themselves. Hypocrisy is caused by fear of man.

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Fear of God causes honesty.

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

Luke 12:10

The Jewish religious leaders had blasphemed the Father when they rejectd the witness of His prophet, John the Baptist. They had blasphemed the Son (Jesus). After Jesus’s Ascension they would blaspheme the Holy Spirit as they stoned Stephen.

Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Acts 7:52-59

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Luke 12:15

Having warned the disciples about misplaced fear causing hypocrisy, Jesus went on to warn them that such fear also causes covetousness.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

Luke 12:16

When Jesus speaks about a “rich man” we would not be wise to limit our thinking to those who live in mansions and ride in limousines. If we have indoor plumbing and an actual bed, or if we find ourselves having a tough time trusting God when we only have 3G reception, rather that 4G, on our phones, then the description of “rich man” covers you and me.

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

Luke 12:17-18

Have you noticed a proliferation of rented storage units in your neighborhood lately?

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Luke 12:19

This is a dangersous way of preaching to your own soul: “Soul, you don’t have to be afraid any more. Even if God doesn’t provide, we’ve provided for ourselves.”

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Luke 12:20-21

Recognizing that people all over the world – and people living right next to us! – need to hear the Gospel, we must remember that there will be a day of accounting (which may arrive much sooner than we think) when we will face God to answer for how we’ve invested the earthly and material blessings and treasures He’s entrusted to our care. Instead of being “rich toward the world,” be “rich toward God.” Be grateful and be anxious to share.

Tattletaling on God

July 26, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Imagine coming home from work one day and excitedly telling your spouse, “Honey, guess what! I got a huge raise and a promotion today!” only to have your spouse respond with, “Well, that’s just great, too bad you couldn’t find time to load the dishwasher every now and then while you were busy earning that raise.” What might this response tell us? Well, it might tell us that one spouse wasn’t exactly carrying his/her weight regarding the household chores, but I think it would actually tell us more about the other spouse’s attitude toward life in general. As we look at the aftermath of Jesus’s gracious healing of the man near the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath, we can see how the response of the Jewish leaders revealed more about them than about the man who was healed.

He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

John 5:11

At this point they seemed to be only interested in the healed man as a potential Sabbath-violator, and he was pretty much willing to narc Jesus out at that point.

Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

John 5:12-13

He was willing to be a stool pigeon, but he wasn’t able to drop a dime on Jesus because he hadn’t even bothered to find out his name.

The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

John 5:15

As soon as he found out who had healed him he couldn’t wait to rat Him out.

And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

John 5:16

In case you were wondering just how seriously the Jewish leaders took Sabbath violations, they were not not talking about giving Him a stern warning and a talking-to, nor giving Him a fine or a slap on the wrist. They were just going to kill Him.

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

John 5:17

The word translated as “answered” is the word used for a legal defense, and His answer shocked them because He referred to God in a personal way as “My” Father, and He referenced the Sabbath “exception” for God Himself, who even the devoutest Jewish religious teachers had to admit must keep “working” on the Sabbath or else the universe would dissolve. People foolishly claim that Jesus never explicitly claimed to be God, but the reaction of the accusers clearly refutes that here.

Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

John 5:18

Once again, though, Jesus had a legal defense or “answer” to this:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, (what does verily, verily mean) I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

John 5:19

Jesus claimed to be God by:

1. Claiming the honor due to God.

That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

John 5:23

2. Claiming to do the works that God can do.

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

John 5:21

3. Claiming that right to judge that God has.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

John 5:22

Jewish scholars claimed that there were three locks that only God could unlock, or three keys that only God held: The keys to open the womb, the clouds (rain), and the grave.

A Final and Unforgettable Sight

July 23, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 39 deals with the complete conquest of Judah by Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar’s officers set up military rule in Jerusalem. Surrender was now too late. Everybody who had ignored Jeremiah’s warnings would have to face the consequences.

Of course, Zedekiah tried to flee, but he was easily tracked down and captured.

And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain. But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

Jeremiah 39:4-5

There had been some conflicting prophecies: one that Zedekiah wold be captured and taken to Babylon, and one that he would not live to see Babylon. Here is the grisly way that the paradox was resolved:

Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon. And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 39:6-8

What an awful image to have as the last thing you ever see. We do not know how long Zedekiah lived in Babylon, but he never actually saw the place.

Modern archaeological digs continue to confirm the destruction of the homes and buildings in Jerusalem after the siege. One deportation of the “best” citizens had occurred before. Now they sent pretty much everybody but the poorest of the poor to Babylon, and distributed lots of land to those left behind so that they could farm it and grow food for the Babylonian soldiers. God saw to it that Nebuchadnezzar was aware of Jeremiah and treated him favorably and turned him over to Gedaliah, the appointed governor. Jeremiah’s prophecies had come true, but God wasn’t finished with him yet. He still had much for him to accomplish.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Illumination (Part 2)

July 19, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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In a previous post I showed that, Biblically:

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity
II. Illumination Initiates Interest
III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Now we will see that:

IV. Illumination Imparts Insight

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:9-10

The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and He teaches the principles and the precepts of the Bible to whose whom He indwells.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Psalm 119:130

The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He leads us out of error. He teaches and reinforces correct doctrine.

V. Illumination Inspires Intimacy

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Psalm 43:3-4

We draw close to God and get to know Him better by various means, but the main way we get to know – not just things about Him – but actually intimately know Him – is through the illumination of the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Colossians 1:12-13

We experience intimate fellowship, through the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination, not only with God, but with other believers.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

I John 1:7

Now that I have discussed what Biblical illumination IS, I want to point out:

VI. What Illumination Is Not

A. Illumination is not inspiration.

Illumination does not give us private revelation apart from Scripture – and especially not contrary to Scripture. It is not a synonym for imagination: Beware of these commonly espoused idioms: “God told me;” “God spoke to my heart;” “God wouldn’t let me do what I had been preparing to do.” Let’s be careful about our language. There is a great danger in saying “thus saith the Lord” when He hasn’t really saith anything of the sort.

B. Illumination is not inner enlightenment.

Illumination is not transcendental meditation. It is not the emptying out of your mind. It is not the achievement of knowing the self or emotional peace. It is not mysticism – or chanting or channeling or tantric yoga. It is not “blind” (dark) faith; it cooperates with rational, intelligent, logical learning, application, and wisdom.

C. Illumination is not immense intelligence.

Jesus and the Apostles were accused of ignorance or illiteracy, or lack of education or formal learning.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:26-27

Paul acknowledged the simplicity of human wisdom and how the true wisdom of God was counted as foolishness in the world.

Illumination in not merely academic. It is a supernatural impartation of understanding specifically related to Bible study. Plenty of classically trained and tremendously educated scholars have made a lifelong study of certain Biblical subjects without ever being converted, and therefore without ever having experienced true illumination.

Celebrating at a Funeral?

July 17, 2019 at 10:08 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: Someone in my family died, and this person had a strong salvation testimony and lived for many years the way the Bible says we would expect a Christian to live. The funeral was more like a party than a funeral. Everybody was laughing and joking, and they even played upbeat party music. Is this okay, since everybody agreed that the person had gone to Heaven?

Answer: Well, I don’t want to say it was NOT okay. There is certainly a sense in which it is okay to celebrate when we believe someone we love has gone to Heaven. But I wouldn’t want to tell people they are not supposed to grieve when someone they love has died, either. I Thessalonians 4:13 says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” Some people take that to mean we shouldn’t sorrow at all when a Christian dies, but I think it means that it is okay to sorrow, just not the same way we would sorrow over someone that died without ever having trusted Christ. After all, Jesus Himself wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35), and He knew He would bring him back to life!

There are two considerations that might temper the celebratory atmosphere at the funeral of a Christian. One is compassion for those in attendance who may not feel like celebrating (Romans 12:15). It would be callous to act irreverent in the presence of people who are going to miss the person who has died. Two, the Bible makes it clear that death itself shouldn’t be frivolously talked about as some “natural, circle-of-life, blessing-in-disguise” occurrence. Death is caused by sin (Genesis 2:17, 3:6; Romans 5:12, 6:23). Death is an adversarial invader into God’s originally “very good” (Genesis 1:31) creation. Every time someone dies, we should grieve over the fact that we ourselves engage in behavior that our Creator deems worthy of death, and a funeral is a stark illustrated sermon on the seriousness of sin and its consequences.

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