Comparisons, Calculations, and Christophany

July 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Daniel | 4 Comments
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Daniel Chapter 8 contains a vision which comes about 12 years before the handwriting on the wall incident. This is the vision of the goat and the ram, and here it extends into a comparison of Antiochus Epiphanes (whose name meant “revelation of the gods”), the ruler of Syria after the death of Alexander the Great. There are comparisons between Epiphanes and the Antichrist. They both begin modestly but increase in power. They both blaspheme God by speaking great things. They both persecute the Jews. They both claim to be gods and put images in the temple. They both impose their religion on the people. Both are opposed by a believing remnant that knows God. Both are energized by the devil and are great deceivers. Both appear successful and invincible. Both are defeated by a redeemer (Judas Maccabeus in the case of Epiphanes and Jesus Christ in the case of the Antichrist).

The events in Daniel Chapter 9 take place right after the handwriting on the wall incident – in 539 B.C. Daniel read the Word of God to prepare for prayer and worship.

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Daniel 9:2-3

Daniel’s prayer was interrupted by the angel Gabriel.

And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

Daniel 9:20-21

Gabriel gave Daniel the prophecy of the 70 weeks.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Daniel 9:24

These “weeks” are seven-year periods, so the 70 “weeks” or 70 “sevens” are really 490 years. The first period is 49 years (7 X 7). This is the period of time found in Nehemiah 2:5-8 when Nehemiah was authorized to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and the gates, not just the temple.

The second period is 483 years (445 B.C. to 29/30 A.D.): the time of Christ’s ministry on earth. Daniel 9:27 deals with the final 7 years, known as the Tribulation – the pronoun “he” refers to the Antichrist, not the Messiah: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Daniel Chapter 10 shows us that the “70 week prophetic calendar” given in Daniel also had prophetic applications which have already become history. In the big picture, the 70 “times” are 70 periods of 70 years, but in Daniel’s time, there were two separate 70 year periods of fulfilled prophecy. The first Jews were deported to Babylon in 605 B.C., and the first captives returned to their land in 536 B.C. (70 years). The temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. and was rebuilt and dedicated in 515 B.C. (70 years).

Daniel was going through a period of three weeks of fasting and praying and using no ointment, probably in order to get more understanding about the visions and prophecies he had already been given. Daniel received a vision of what may have been Jesus Christ. Then he received knowledge of the battle between Gabriel and Michael and the demons who were the princes of Persia and Greece. Persia is modern Iran. (Modern Iraq is Biblical Babylon.)

The Lord’s Leftovers

July 29, 2010 at 11:49 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 2 Comments
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When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.

Deuteronomy 24:19

One of my favorite things is leftovers – especially after the holidays. I like leftover turkey, leftover ham, leftover cabbage and black-eyed peas. I love my wife’s leftover homemade fried chicken after it’s been in the fridge all night! But is there a spiritual lesson associated with leftovers?

The Bible Word for leftovers is “gleaning” (See also Leviticus 23:22; 19:9-10; and Deuteronomy 24:21.) Gleaning is a very important part of the Book of Ruth.

Here are three principles concerning the Lord’s “leftovers:” (1) Gathering; (2) Gleaning; (3) Giving.

Gathering is why the harvest is cut down. It’s the collection of the fruits of the harvest. It is when God graciously allows us to see the results of our labors in Him. When that happens, we get to rejoice – but we don’t always see the harvest in this life. The best way to make sure I am enjoying the blessings of the “gathering” in this life is to be present where believers are “gathering” together for church.

Gleaning

When thou… hast forgot a sheaf, thou shalt not go again to fetch it…

Deuteronomy 24:19

This is not an admonition not to forget. (That’s the usual theme of my Lord’s Supper devotions.) This “forgetting” is expected. It’s almost designed – so that certain people – people who are hungry and needy because they couldn’t plow, plant, sow, and gather – can still “work” for their supper. It preserves their dignity (not pride) and allows them to eat. There is also an application for us, today, in church.

When you “gather” the Word – gather some to be left for others. When you “gather” your praise and worship – gather some for others. When you “gather” your prayers – let others come glean some of the prayers you might have forgotten.

Giving

We are to give our gleaning to “strangers” (lost people). We are to give our gleaning to the “fatherless” (children whose fathers are physically or spiritually absent or deceased). We are to give our gleaning to “widows” (women whose husbands are deceased and women whose husbands are not providing materially or spiritually).

Why gather, glean, and give? The obvious answer is so God can bless those who need it. The even better answer is so He can bless the work of our hands. God could take care of strangers, orphans, and widows without my help. But He lets me have a part in it. Some Christians are gathering, but not gleaning and giving. Some Christians are gathering, getting, and gorging. We’re being fed the Word like nobody’s business and we’re turning into fat pigs. We’re not leaving a single sheaf for others who are not getting fed the Word. “Silver and gold have we none,” said Peter and John to the lame man outside the gate called Beautiful, “but such as we have we give unto thee.” I may not have anything anybody “wants,” but I may have been given exactly what somebody needs.

Will you gather together some of what the Lord has given you today, and just happen to “forget it,” and leave it for somebody else?

Is it Wrong To Ask for an Overt Response? (Part 2)

July 26, 2010 at 9:09 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 3 Comments
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In a backlash against what is perceived as the “manipulative altar call,” I have heard it said that, “The old preachers used to instruct their listeners to go home and get right with God.”

Maybe so. But before the old preachers did that, the even older preachers demanded an overt response by commanding men to repent and be converted.

In Luke 13 Jesus responds to the questions of the Theodicians by telling them to repent, or else they will perish. Maybe He told them to go home first, before they got right with God, but the Bible doesn’t say that. In fact, later in the same Chapter He says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.

If people are being told that a formulaic prayer is the thing that saves them, then I would say that formulaic praying that makes the prayer itself the object of faith is unbiblical. However, demanding an overt response from the hearers of the Word of God (even lost hearers) is clearly Biblical.

Stating that leading lost sinners in prayer, or calling hearers to an altar for prayer or counseling, somehow means that God is too weak to save during these events is unbiblical. Folks who were regenerated by God as they said a “sinner’s prayer” are God’s Own children, redeemed by Him, predestinated from the foundation of the world unto salvation, elect, secure, and irrevocably bound for Heaven.

Try to catch the Biblical view of God’s sovereignty and power.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

II Corinthians 8:3-5

God is powerful enough to make men speak of “their” power and them being “willing of themselves” while it is still “by the will of God.” If you can acknowledge that men respond, then you are just a short step away from admitting that God wants men to call other men to respond actively and overtly.

Men are totally depraved and without hope, apart from Christ. Regenerated saints are called to preach the Gospel to these depraved sinners. When God opens the eyes of lost sinners, and shows them their sinful condition, the regenerated believers are to try, in the power of God’s Spirit, to bring these lost folks to Jesus. That’s what Andrew did. We don’t know if he ever preached a sermon or taught a lesson, but we know he brought people to Jesus. Why did the people go with Andrew when he said, “Come with me to meet Jesus?” Why did they “respond?” Because God ordained it and because God made them want to come. You can call it “monergism” or “synergism” or whatever – I don’t care – neither of those words are in my Bible. Andrew bringing people to Jesus, the Apostles demanding a response, people responding, and God saying it is all of Him – those are all in my Bible.

According to the Bible God saves people in His Own power, and He is the One Who keeps them saved, and His Own power empowers them for service. The same principle is at work both in God calling lost sinners to repentance and in God calling His saints to service. I chose II Corinthians 8:3-5 because of the close proximity between God’s will and men “giving of themselves” to the Lord in the same passage of Scripture. I could give plenty of examples of this in the Bible. I believe these Verses are talking about true Christians, not lost unregenerate people, but it’s the same principle, the same God, the same power. I hear people say, “Lost people can’t give themselves to God,” and it’s true – unless God calls them to do it (and He does.) But by the same token, saved people can’t give themselves (or anything else) to God without God’s power, either. God’s will is for people to respond. God calls whom He will to respond. He calls us to call people to respond. And some of them do respond. You can’t get more overt than that. These folks in II Corinthians 8 weren’t just raising their hand or praying a prayer – they were giving money! (Or at least material possessions.)

“How do we get a dead sinner to respond actively and overtly to the Gospel?” is the wrong question. We don’t “get” them to. We command them to – we tell them to – we even “beseech” (Bible word) them to.

We are commanded by God to deliver the Good News with reverence and passion, and the people who hear it from us, spiritually dead though they may be, are responsible for responding.

We are to demand that lost sinners repent, believe the Gospel, and be converted “right there on the spot.” If they walk away, we are to keep praying. (I would argue it’s okay if we even chase after them – certainly Paul covered the same ground more than once in his missionary journeys.) But if God has quickened them, and they say, “I want to know more about this repentance, this belief, this conversion” then we can either say, “Sorry, God will have to do a work in you, I’ve preached and now I’m packing up my box of ‘death to the sinner’s prayer’ and ‘death to the altar call’ quotes and leaving.” Or we can say, “Good, I would be glad to show you from God’s Word more about the salvation of God, and, by God’s Spirit, I will even (gasp!), help you in prayer to call upon the Lord to be merciful and to regenerate you.” One time, the Apostles demanded a response to the Gospel “right there on the spot” and about 3000 souls were saved in that same one day.

Concerning the 3000 who were saved in Acts 2:41, whose Word did they receive? Was it the Apostles’ or God’s?

It was both.

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Romans 2:16

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Romans 16:25

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

II Timothy 2:8

God is amazing enough to cause men to be stewards of His Word, and to even inspire men to call it their own.

Were the folks in Acts 2:41 saved because the Apostles demanded them to do so?

Yes, it was “because” the Apostles demanded a response, and it was because God ordained it. Not only that, He proclaimed it in the Old Testament, and He decreed it from the foundation of the world. Every one of us has a very finite view of cause and effect because we’re not God. God has an infinite view of cause and effect. This is the Truth as God explains it in the Bible, not the way it is popularly explained in the words of men when they rail against “sinner’s prayers” and “altar calls” and “decisionism.”

God has commissioned His church to preach the Gospel and press hard for a response. Death to canned prayers? Amen! Death to sinners praying that God would be merciful to them? Not amen. The Bible condones sinners praying that God would be merciful to them. Death to calling for an overt response to the preaching of the Gospel? Not amen. Jesus and the Apostles called for an overt response to the preaching of the Gospel.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Luke 16:16

They responded and they acted. If God approves of sinners “pressing,” He surely approves of them praying as they press.

Warning Sign #7: Playing Politics

July 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 5 Comments
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Let’s just pretend for a moment that you are the pastor/preacher at a fairly conservative Baptist church. One day, though, you decide you have had enough. Things are getting too boring around here, just trying to obey God’s Word. You have seen something better: the wild, exciting worship that takes place on TBN. You have seen the material wealth and fame of the “Word Faith” preachers, and the size of their congregations, and especially the showy display of their gaudy buildings. Something clicks in your brain, (which you will later claim was a “rhema word from the Holy Ghost”) and you realize that you are never going to be as rich, exciting, or renowned as those TV preachers unless you play down the “Baptist” aspects of your ministry and play up the so-called “Charismatic” or “Pentecostal” features which are part of the background of most of the famous prosperity preachers.

These would be your two main problems:

1. Traditional Baptist theology does not focus primarily on the so-called “sign gifts” of tongues, prophecy, and supernatural healings, but these are the bread-and-butter of Charismatic and Pentecostal fundraising.

2. To attract Pentecostals and most Charismatics to see your show, you are going to have to convince them that, although you have been a Baptist, and have preached that salvation is of the Lord, and that once God makes you a new creation in Christ Jesus you are eternally secure, you also somehow believe that you can lose “your” salvation.

How in the world are you going to convince your congregation that you are “going Pentecostal” without looking like a traitor to your former beliefs?

Here’s how: you are going to have to be “political.” Start telling people that you are “too Baptist to be Pentecostal and too Pentecostal to be Baptist,” and that some Baptists were mean to you one time, and didn’t want you to act too freaky in church. This hurt your feelings, but now you realize that they were just being too “by the Book,” and you were trying to “get free in the Holy Spirit!” Of course, you will have to use a lot of smoke and mirrors and a lot of doublespeak.

You will also have to be prepared to look extremely foolish at times: Case in point – in order to avoid the phrase, “once saved always saved” (which most Pentecostals absolutely hate), try referring to “The Gospel According To Jesus,” by John MacArthur. A good politician can use the “Lordship Salvation” teaching of this book to disarm most Pentecostals. Tell them that if you are not “crowning Jesus Lord,” every moment of every day, then you are not “saved.” This should appease them. They will interpret this to mean that you think folks can lose their salvation by sinning. Beware however: a more astute Pentecostal may do a little research and find out that MacArthur also wrote a book called “Charismatic Chaos,” and is perhaps the staunchest “cessationist” around today. [Uh-oh, now you will have to explain how you think MacArthur is right on one point, but is teaching a “lie from the pit of hell” (cessationism) on another point.]

That could be tricky, but it’s all in a week’s work for a Good Preacher Going Bad. Just keep them emotionally charged up with lights, smoke, discordant “worship” music, sowing seeds of faith (a.k.a. giving money), and claimed “healings” (which are supernatural even though they might take a while to “manifest” [wink, wink.]) As a prosperity-preacher-in-the-making, you will be very close at this point to “seeing a move of God” as the “fire falls” and the “latter rain” breaks out “in this place.”

All Dressed Up with Somewhere to Go

July 16, 2010 at 8:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Few things will stir up a hornet’s nest of disagreement among Christians like the issue of what type of clothing is appropriate. This should not be the case, however, since the Bible’s principles for Christian dress are clear: Modesty and Distinction. (I Timothy 2:9; Deuteronomy 22:5)

Colossians 3:12 deals with a less divisive, but equally important, issue: What the Christian should be wearing on the inside. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”

Imagine what it would be like if Christians wore special belts around our waists that made us feel, in our deepest parts, a desire to forgive those who are suffering from having done horrible things (bowels of mercies). What if we had special shirts that made us go to great lengths to do good for others (kindness)? Or how about hats that made us think neither too little, nor too much, of ourselves, but simply kept us from thinking of ourselves at all (humbleness of mind)? What if we had shoes that kept our feet moving in response to God’s power, instead of trying to run ahead in our own power (meekness)? Maybe we could even put on overcoats that helped us bear with patience the faults of others, while we remember how much the Lord puts up with from us (longsuffering).

I suppose, in the world’s eyes, we would look pretty funny. They would say we were “all dressed up with nowhere to go.” But, perhaps, in God’s eyes we would appear as one big unified body, ready to go wherever God sent us, ruled by His peace, doing His will, and seeking His glory. (Colossians 3:13-15)

The Name Game

July 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Genesis | 8 Comments
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Laban had two daughters: Rachel was the youngest; Leah was the other one. It appears that Rachel was more physically attractive. Jacob agreed to work seven years for Laban in exchange for the right to marry Rachel. But Laban was trickier than Jacob.

However, the seven years seemed to pass very quickly for Jacob.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

Genesis 29:20

On the wedding night Jacob got tricked in way reminiscent of the way Isaac got tricked – but worse. Jacob couldn’t even rely on his senses.

And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

Genesis 29:22

The word for “feast” here probably means an eating and drinking party.

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

Genesis 29:25

The Bible records Jacob walking with a limp from his wrestling encounter with the Lord or the Angel of the Lord, but if he reacted that way with Leah, he might have wound up with a limp anyway! In the 18th and 19th Centuries there was a ribald expression about going to bed with a Rachel and waking up with a Leah.

In any event, Jacob ended up serving another seven years for Laban in exchange for Rachel. That makes fourteen years working for Laban (minus two weeks off) and two wives – who were not too happy with each other! You can see from the names which the wives gave their children that Jacob the supplanter turned into Jacob the struggler. He just becomes kind of a pawn – kind of a man-toy in this power struggle where Rachel wants sons, and Leah wants Jacob to really love her and thinks having sons is the way to get that.

And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

Genesis 29:31

Hatred sounds harsh – but if you don’t love your wife, the fact is, you hate her. Hating your wife is bad, but there is a worse degree than hatred – indifference. Say what you will about Jacob, but he was not indifferent. Leah had six sons and one daughter. Jacob had twelve sons altogether: They were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The name “Reuben” meant “see, a son.” At Christ’s birth and at His baptism, God announced: “Behold, My Son.”

The name “Simeon” meant “one who hears.” God heard Leah’s prayer, and God would one day tell people to hear His Son. “Faith cometh by hearing.”

The name “Levi” meant “attached.” Levi was the priestly tribe. Jesus called disciples to attach themselves to Him.

The name “Judah” meant “praise.” Judah was the tribe of David and of Jesus. As Jesus ministered on earth, many rejected Him, but some began to praise Him.

Leah got to be the mother of the priestly tribe (Levi) and the kingly tribe (Judah). Christ is both Priest and King.

The name “Issachar” meant “reward” or “wages.” Christians have earned the wages of sin which are death, but we have received the undeserved reward of eternal life by grace through faith in Christ.

The name “Zebulun” meant “honor.” Christ was honored and exalted by God at His Ascension.

And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.

Genesis 30:14

The nickname for mandrakes was “love apples.” Later, Reuben, the collector of mandrakes, would sleep with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22) and lose his birthright.

Bickering and bargaining characterized Jacob’s household. His attitude seemed to be one of patient submission.

Rachel had a son through Bilhah named Dan. The name “Dan” meant “judgment.”

The name “Naphtali” meant “struggle.”

Leah, through Zilpah, had Gad. The name “Gad” meant “good fortune has come” or “a troop.”

The name “Asher” meant “blessed.”

You can see the constant “one-upswomamanship” in this naming contest. Finally, Rachel has Joseph, whose name meant both “to add” and “to take away.” She would have one more son, first named “Benoni” (son of sorrow) then later “Benjamin,” which meant “son of my right hand.” Rachel died giving birth to him.

Blesschatology

July 14, 2010 at 10:31 am | Posted in Daniel | 2 Comments
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The events in Chapters 7 and 8 of Daniel actually take place before the events in Chapters 5 and 6 (the handwriting on the wall and the fiery furnace incidents). Nabonidus was Nebuchadnezzar’s son and Belshazzar’s father. Chapters 7 and 8 are arranged so that we see Daniel’s ability to interpret the dreams of others before we see him get the interpretation of his own dreams.

Chapter 7 has the vision of the first four of the same kingdoms represented in the image in Chapter 2: four beasts. The lion with the wings of an eagle represents Babylon. The bear represents the Persians and the Medes, and the three ribs in its mouth probably represent Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon. The leopard with four wings represents Alexander the Great. (When he died in 323 B.C. his kingdom was divided into four parts.) The “terrible beast” from Daniel 7:7 represents the Roman Empire. The ten horns = the ten toes in Chapter 2, which many students of prophecy see as a picture of the European Union.

The last human kingdom was revealed to Daniel, but not to Nebuchadnezzar. The little horn represents the last world ruler, Antichrist. (See Daniel 7:25.) His dictatorship will last 3 ½ years. The Antichrist will lead the ten nations, he will overcome three other nations, and, with the help of Satan, he will become a world dictator. He will make a covenant with the Jews to protect them. This will start the Tribulation. After 3 ½ years he will break the covenant and set up his own image in the temple in Jerusalem, trying to force the world to worship him and Satan. This is called “the abomination of desolation” by the Lord in Mark 13:14.

The seven years will end when Christ returns to Earth to defeat the Antichrist and his army, and when He establishes His Kingdom on Earth.

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14

I am not an expert by any means on end-times prophecy. After studying the matter, I believe that the Bible teaches what is usually called the “pre-millenialist” viewpoint. I know there are others who disagree, and some of them are classified as “post-millenialists.” To the best of my understanding, they believe that the Kingdom of Christ will be established on Earth before Christ returns. Others are “amillenialists,” which, as I understand it, do not take the prophecies in Daniel Chapter 7 literally. I am not a big fan of disputing these different viewpoints or making them a test of fellowship, and I have friends who believe differently. Those who are truly in Christ Jesus will find out the truth soon enough, one way or the other.

How did Daniel respond to the interpretation he was given of the vision? He was troubled and his expression changed (Daniel 7:28). He became pale. He kept the matter to himself, but he also kept it in his heart. He behaved like a true prophet. He did not start ranting and raving. The prophecies of the end times should comfort and convict us – not make us want to dispute or show off our knowledge. We should be getting ready and looking forward to Christ’s return, and end time prophecies should cause us to stay busy and to strive to be holy. Knowing what people who reject God are going to have to go through should remind us to repent of anything that’s hindering our relationship with God.

Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children

July 12, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Exodus | 14 Comments
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Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Exodus 20:7

The Bible has many negative things to say about vanity, and Commandment No. 3 is a good starting point for teaching children what it means. “Vanity” refers to things which might mean something to people here on earth now, but will not mean anything one day in Heaven. When we take God’s name “in vain,” we make it seem like God is not important to us. That’s one reason why we don’t want to say things like “Oh God” or “Oh my God” in a casual way. Even terms like “gosh” can be a form of taking God’s name in vain. A good rule for children to remember is to only say God’s name when you are actually talking about God.

Here are some names for God in the Bible that most children can easily understand, or may know already:
1. GOD
2. JESUS
3. HOLY SPIRIT
4. HOLY GHOST
5. LORD
6. FATHER
7. ALMIGHTY
8. REDEEMER
9. SAVIOR
10. MESSIAH
11. CHRIST

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Exodus 20:8

Here, under the 4th Commandment, it is important to teach children the reason why God rested. He did not “rest” because He was tired. He rested to show that He was finished with the initial work of creation, and to set an example for us. He also rested in order to set apart a special day – and some things – as special to Him. God wants us to show that we care more about Him than making money.

Warning Sign #6: Visualization Techniques

July 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, When Good Preachers Go Bad | 11 Comments
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The false teaching of the prosperity gospel is partly about greed. Therefore, if you expect the prosperity preacher to talk about “claiming” and “grabbing” and “seizing” you will not be disappointed. Whether it’s good health, popularity with the world, or just plain old filthy lucre, though, the prosperity preacher knows one thing:

You have to see it before you reach it!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Speaking “words of faith” are all well and good. But if you’ve been speaking to your checkbook, your doctor’s appointment book, and your Facebook for a long time, and you still don’t have as many dollars, healings, or shallow friends as you would like – it just may be that you are not “visualizing” hard enough!

I have heard visualizing techniques attributed to all sorts of Biblical characters – from Abraham to Jabez to David to Zacchaeus. To be fair, Zacchaeus did seem to be a little (no pun intended) bit of a visualizer.

“See there!” says the prosperity preacher, “The Bible does teach that we are supposed to see what we want, and then reach for it!”

Not so fast. Zacchaeus had a desire to see, alright – but a desire to see what… or should I say Whom?

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Luke 19:3, emphasis added

Despite what the prosperity teacher tells you, remember: Our help comes from seeing Jesus – not the personal comforts we can concoct in our own imaginations.

So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

John 6:19, emphasis added

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

John 12:21, emphasis added

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9, emphasis added

Racing Tips

July 1, 2010 at 8:54 am | Posted in Hebrews | 13 Comments
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A marathon is a foot-race that is 26 miles, 385 yards long. That’s quite a long distance to cover by foot! It might surprise you to learn, however, that almost anybody can finish a marathon. The feat is not in finishing – the feat is in how long it takes you to finish! It might take some of us a few hours to finish. It might take some of us a few months. It all depends on how well we run the race.

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The Christian life is the same way. All Christians are going to finish the race of life. The question is, how well will you run along the way? The past champions of faith have left testimonies that witness to believers today that it is possible to run the race of the Christian life very well, indeed. (See Hebrews 11.)

No one hoping to run well in a marathon would intentionally act foolish during the race. Rolling on the ground, leaving the race-route, running backwards, stopping for a nap, feuding with other runners, or scarfing down heavy snacks along the way, would, I think we can all agree, greatly hinder one’s ability to run well in a marathon.

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We may compare these actions to sins that easily beset Christians on a daily basis. They have no merit whatsoever, and should be prohibited for marathon-runners. In the race of the Christian life sins must definitely be laid aside as we run.

However, there are some things, which are not necessarily forbidden to runners, but which are just not good ideas in a marathon. Bulky, heavy clothes are one example. The wrong kind of shoes for running is another. It would make sense to drink water during the race, but not to carry a giant drum full of it on your back.

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We may compare these actions to practices in the life of a believer which are not necessarily sinful, but which weigh us down. They may still allow us to run, but they prevent us from running with the excellence and swiftness that the Lord wants. These weighty distractions must also be laid aside.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1


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